Security Experts:

Bank of America Starts Rollout of Chip Credit Cards to Consumers

Bank of America today said that it is rolling out chip technology on many of its consumer credit cards.

Credit cards with chip technology, which is also known as EMV, which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, uses an embedded microchip and a personal identification number (PIN) to validate the card, the consumer, and the payment transaction instead of a cardholder’s signature. The technology is popular in countries outside the U.S. and will increase acceptance and security of the cards for Bank of America’s international travelers.

The solution provides customers with improved security and acceptance, offering greater control over fraud since Chip point-of-sale (POS) terminals are more commonly brought directly to the customer who then enters a PIN number to complete the transaction, often not having to hand the card over.

Bank of America says that its new chip-enabled credit cards will continue to prompt customers to sign for transactions just as they would today, and that the cards would still include the traditional magnetic stripe.

“The new chip-enabled cards will improve convenience and security of customers’ transactions when traveling abroad,” said Bank of America Consumer and Small Business Products Executive Susan Faulkner. “We want our customers to have the best possible experience while making purchases with their credit cards anywhere in the world.”

The bank will include the chip technology in all newly issued Merrill Lynch credit cards, U.S. Trust Accolades, BankAmericard Travel Rewards, BankAmericard Privileges, and Virgin Atlantic travel credit cards. The bank also will upgrade existing customers in these card programs who have been identified as international travelers.

In addition, the chip will be an optional feature that cardholders can request for the following credit card programs: BankAmericard Cash Rewards, BankAmericard Power Rewards, BankAmericard, AAA Members Rewards, NEA, Asiana Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Customers will be able to request the chip card options at the banking center or via phone beginning this week and online later this year, the bank said. Earlier this year, the Bank of America began rolling out chip and PIN credit cards to corporate and commercial clients in the U.S. This followed last year’s release of chip and PIN cards to corporate and commercial clients in Europe.

In February of this year, Visa announced that U.S. banks had issued an estimated one million Visa-branded, EMV chip-enabled cards as the end of 2011.

“We can anticipate that there will continue to be a strong push to migrate to a new chip and PIN payment architecture in the United States, fueled by multi-national merchants who have seen fraud/chargeback benefits from implementations in other parts of the world,” according to Christopher Justice in a SecurityWeek column. “The migration will be neither fast nor inexpensive, requiring a hefty investment in new technology and new processes. Both merchants and consumers will need to continue to build a compelling business case for migration to chip and PIN cards in order to convince issuers and acquirers to change the payment infrastructure that is currently in place,” Justice added.  

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.