The Future of EMV: What the UK’s Latest Decision Means for US Businesses

The United States may be one of the last countries to implement EMV, but being late to the payments party does have its benefits. With the UK serving as a prime example of a successfully rolled out chip card program (the first cards were sent out to account holders in 2004), the US can often look to this progress to see what the future may have in store with the stateside adoption of these newly-minted cards.

This week, with news of the UK increasing the EMV contactless limit from £20 to £30, we’re presented with another milestone that may be in store for the US in the months and years following the October 1 liability shift. This limit increase is attributed to a dramatic rise in the number of UK citizens with contactless cards, along with the growing popularity of mobile payments, which has made tapping to pay far more commonplace. 

The first EMV contactless cards were issued in the UK back in 2007 with the purpose of completing smaller transactions without entering a PIN or signature at the checkout. While US businesses and consumers will likely go through an adjustment period with dipping cards into a payment terminal instead of swiping that old magnetic stripe, contactless payments in the UK are a notice to EMV skeptics that the best is yet to come. 

Still need convincing that contactless is growing on shoppers? Just look at Apple Pay’s adoption numbers from October 2014: One million credit cards were activated in the first three days following its availability. Fast forward nearly one year, and Android Pay’s long-anticipated launch is on the horizon. With Android supporting 93 percent of all NFC-enabled smartphones and 416 million NFC-ready phones expected to ship this year, US shoppers are about to become even more accustomed to contactless payments—setting up the transition from dipping chip and pin cards to ultimately tapping them. 

The bottom line: If history repeats itself, EMV contactless will likely have a very bright—and long-lasting—future in the US. 

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