EMV Chip Debit Card FAQs

Q. What is EMV?
A. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard®, Visa. It is an international standard for credit and debit cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. To help stop the ever increasing risk of large scale data breaches and counterfeit card fraud, U.S. banks and other card issuers are migrating to this technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs associated with fraud. EMV chip cards are currently widely used in Europe, Asia and Canada, and are now being adopted in the U.S.

Q. What is an EMV Chip Debit Card?
A. An EMV chip debit card has a microchip embedded in it that provides substantially more security than a magnetic stripe.

Q. Why are chip cards more secure than traditional cards?
A. EMV cards are referred to as chip cards. The small metallic square you'll see on new cards is a microcomputer.

Image of EMV Chip Debit Card

The magnetic-striped cards in use for years store static data, or payment data that does not change. The data stored in the magnetic stripe includes your 16-digit card account number, expiration date and 3-digit security code (CVC) like the one found on the back of your card. EMV Chip cards contain the same data and more. Each purchase or transaction that you make with your card generates dynamic or unique data that is encoded in a safe mode.

EMV helps protect you even if your card or your card data is lost or stolen because the chip technology:

  • Makes it difficult for anyone but the rightful owner to use the card, and
  • Protects against the creation of counterfeit cards because dynamic data is only good for a single purchase or use. Each transaction you make creates a unique code. If the card data is copied and the transaction is attempted again, it will be recognized as a duplicate and rejected.

Q. How is a Chip Card used to make a purchase?
A. The process for using a chip card is different than using a magnetic stripe card. Instead of swiping, you insert the card into the merchant's card reader and leave it there. You then follow the prompts on the card reader's screen and wait to remove the card until the transaction has completed. Be careful not to leave the card behind!

Image of EMV POS Terminal

It may take some time to become used to the chip card, but the extra security provided will be well worth the transition from swiping to dipping.

Q. What's required, to complete a purchase? A signature or a PIN?
A. The verification method for your Brookline Bank debit card is referred to as chip-and-signature. In many cases you will use a signature or PIN the way you do today. If the merchant prefers to ask for a PIN, you may be asked to enter your PIN for transactions that today require a signature, such as to pay a restaurant bill.

Q. Will a chip card work at a retailer that does not support EMV technology?
A. Yes. The initial EMV cards will include both chip and magnetic stripe functions. The card reader will guide you through the process:

  • If a card is entered into the chip card slot, but the card reader isn't yet activated for EMV, it will display an error and you will be prompted to swipe the card in order to use it.
  • Conversely if you attempt to swipe your chip card rather than inserting it, an error will display and you will be prompted to insert the card for chip processing instead.
  • If a chip-card reader is not in place at a merchant, the EMV card can be read with a swipe, just like a traditional magnetic stripe card.

Q. Does the customer still have zero liability the way they do today?
A. Yes, the customer still has zero liability, even with an EMV chip enabled card.

Q. What about magnetic stripes? Will those go away?
A. No, not right away. Experts estimate that it may take up to four years for all financial institutions and merchants to fully convert to EMV chip technology. Initial use of both magnetic stripes and EMV chips provides significantly increased security but is easier on customers and merchants than eliminating magnetic stripes all at once.