US market hits 1 billion EMV chip cards milestone behind Asia

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US card issuers have surpassed the 1 billion EMV chip cards mark to take second place in total EMV cards deployed, behind the global leader, Asia Pacific.

Now the shift to EMV and chip-card transactions is almost complete, with 1 billion EMV cards in circulation in the US at the end of 2019 and close to 10 billion globally, according to EMVCo.

EMVCo, the governing body that manages EMV card interoperability, released its December 31, 2019 statistics which revealed that the US had 1.074 billion EMV chip-enabled credit, debit and prepaid cards deployed compared to 1.04 billion for Western Europe, which is represented as Zone 1 in its data. Only the US is represented as a single country zone in EMVCo statistics, whereas all other countries are grouped into various regions.

The Asia Pacific region, which has some of the world’s most populous countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Japan, continues to lead the world with EMV chip cards deployed at 6.226 billion at the end of 2019, up from 5 billion in 2018 and 4.147 billion at the end of 2017.

In terms of transactions processed using EMV chip card technology, including contactless — which is experiencing a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic — both Western European zones continue to maintain global leadership positions. About 98% of all transactions in Zone 1 (Western Europe) were processed in 2019 using EMV chip cards compared to almost 61% of transactions processed in the US.

Percentage of card present transaction that are EMV chip

One major factor in Europe leading EMV chip card processed transactions is that both zones exceed 80% levels of chip card penetration as opposed 63% in the US and almost 77% in Asia Pacific.

Another factor contributing to lower EMV transaction levels is the US has been the speed with which it adopted chip-card payments, compared to many European countries.

When many countries in the world shifted to EMV, the US became an easy target for fraudsters. To reduce fraud, the US began its migration to EMV in 2014-2015.

The results speak for themselves:

  • For those merchants that accept EMV cards, counterfeit fraud losses decreased 87% in March 2019 compared to September 2015, before the liability shift.
  • According to Visa, as of September 2019,3.7 million US merchants accept EMV cards,an 815% increase since September 2015.
  • 75% of U.S. stores are accepting EMV cards in March 2019.
  • 99% of U.S. payment volume ($81 billion) in March 2019 was on EMV cards. This was 1.6% in September 2015.

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