The Final Countdown

A look back at the major developments in EMV and the impending milestones leading up to the 2015 liability shift.


It's been a long and sometimes winding road to bring the more secure, chip-based technology of Europay-MasterCard-Visa (EMV) cards to the United States. Because every credit union is distinct, individual plans and timelines to maximize this opportunity vary. However, this timeline of notable past dates — as well as forward-looking benchmarks planned by credit union early adopters — can assist any institution in its efforts to successfully launch EMV.


Chip cards gain momentum in the European marketplace as a safer alterative to magnetic stripe technology. EMVCo, a partnership among EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa, forms to funnel these business efforts.


EMVCo initiates the development of EMV standards to better ensure interoperability. In 1996, it publishes its first version of EMV Contact Specifications.


EMVCo trademarks the term EMV.


American Express joins EMVCo.

The European Payments Council announces it is considering banning all magnetic stripe cards.


In August, Visa announces its plan to increase support and technical assistance to further accelerate stateside EMV migration and mobile payment adoption.


In February, MasterCard follows Visa in offering benefits to retailers — such as relief from PCI security standard audits — if they use EMV-equipped hardware at the point-of-sale.

State Department Federal Credit Union ($1.5B, Alexandria, VA) rolls out credit cards equipped with

"A large portion of our membership lives overseas and has been asking about the card for a while," says Tim Comeau, manager of card services at the credit union. "The chip technology is definitely not new to them."


Discover and UnionPay join EMVCo.

In 2013, ORNL Federal Credit Union ($1.5B, Oak Ridge, TN) begins discussing its migration to EMV.

"We spent last year developing plans and working with a vendor to get information so we could begin a deployment plan this year," says Dawn Brummet, vice president of retail lending and operations at ORNL.

In April, Firefighters Community Credit Union ($196M, Cleveland, OH) has its first meeting to map out its EMV strategy.

In October 2013, MasterCard begins offering merchants 50% liability protection for data compromises as long as three out of four transactions took place on EMV compliant point-of-sale hardware.


ORNL plans to start rolling out EMV-capable ATMs in 2014 and replace all existing ATMs with EMV-capable machines in time for the liability shift.

Digital Federal Credit Union ($5.3B, Marlborough, MA) plans to launch a travel credit card featuring both a magnetic stripe and EMV. This is the first step in the eventual migration of its entire credit card portfolio to EMV.

By May, Quorum Credit Union ($779M, Purchase, NY) will have converted its entire credit portfolio to EMV cards. It plans to wait on converting its debit card portfolio.

In May, Firefighters Community Credit Union plans to mass reissue 5,400 EMV credit cards.

"We're in front of the curve here, but in our culture, we like the chance to be progressive," says Ben Laurendeau, the credit unions' CEO.

During third quarter, ORNL plans to roll out EMV cards to replace expiring cards. The credit union might push this back to fourth quarter if it decides to participate in a PSCU dual-interface program and roll out EMV cards that also have contactless technology.

"We're planning to do it in phases," Brummet says. "Then when we reach a point in that liability shift where there will be somewhat of a mass reissue, we've whittled down that mass."

CU Wallet, a credit union-owned mobile payments platform CUSO, plans to launch by the end of 2014. Although mobile payments might one day replace card payments, Quorum, a partner of CU Wallet, isn't letting mobile innovation delay its EMV conversion.

"I don't think you can stop moving forward with EMV," says CEO Bruno Sementilli. "It just won't turn over that quickly. Cards are too well established."

Starting in fourth quarter 2014, Digital will replace expiring magnetic stripe cards with EMV cards, which will prevent the burden of a mass reissue.

"Credit is the most common source of fraud, so we want to make sure we address that," says Julie Moran, the credit union's vice president of support services. "We're waiting to convert the debit portfolio until the legislation settles and all of the decisions are made."


On October 1, 2015, the fraud liability for counterfeit and lost or stolen cards shifts to the least secure entity. This phase of liability does not include fuel dispensers at gas stations.

"We don't want to be behind the deadline, we want to be in line," says ORNL's Brummet. "It's a shift for everyone — the consumer, the issuer, the retailer. I think it's going to be adoption along the way for everyone involved."

2016 And Beyond

In 2016, liability at non-EMV compliant ATMs moves to the ATM host for all MasterCard cards. A similar transition for Visa cards will follow in 2017.

By 2017, the extended deadline for counterfeit and lost or stolen cards ends for fuel dispensers.