Change is Only as Hard as One Makes it
It’s so very hard to change the behavior of a population as large as the U.S. Previously-held beliefs, resistance to change and just sheer inertia are but a few of the many forces that keep people on their current track. Marketers love to try to change behavior, but they rarely do. Technologies have had the most success over the past decade at getting humans to adopt new behaviors or shift their rituals to a new channel. Here comes another one.
The credit card dates back to 1950 and has never looked back. Paying with plastic has become commonplace among a large number of U.S. households. The Nilson Report states that there are over 1.14 billion general purpose, credit, debit and prepaid cards in the United States. That’s a lot, but we know many of them are cozied up in the sock drawer. Or as we call them in the business, inactive.
A plastic debit or credit card has a magnetic stripe on the back. That’s the grey bar you are used to swiping. Indeed we have perfected our “swipe muscle memory.” Walk up to the check-out, pull out a card and swipe it. That phrase has made it into the dictionary and lexicon many years ago.
We’re about to introduce a new definition to your Funk and Wagnalls. The next step change in how you pay with plastic is getting some new moves.
This fall banks will begin replacing those magnetic stripe cards with new ones. They will still have the magnetic stripe but also come with a computer chip embedded into the plastic, easily seen on the face of the card. I will not go into the technical details here. All you really need to know is that the addition of the chip combined with systems changes at the merchant and the bank results in the use of cryptographic algorithms that communicate in a manner that does not reveal your card number. Bottom line: your card number will no longer be seen by the merchant and therefore cannot be stolen.
This protection is only available for offline purchases in stores that have the new card readers and software updates. If your store does not have these new hardware devices that can read the chip, your transactions are processed in the same way they are today. It also does not work with online stores, as your card is “not present.” The presence of your card and therefore your chip is required for this improved level of security.
Your Purchasing Routine is About to Get a New Move
Many of you have already received a chip card from your bank. Be sure to activate, sign and replace your non-chip card with the new one. You will now have to add a new move to your check-out repertoire. Keep those swipe muscles honed, as the changeover to the new hardware will take a very long time. But it’s time to acquire the “dip” move.
It’s very simple. Insert your chip card into the reader and leave it. Sign your name on the plastic screen with that handy stylus that’s attached to the reader while the card remains in the reader. When it beeps, remove your card and off you go. Don’t worry if the cashier has never seen it before. Don’t be discouraged that they might not be properly trained. Dip like a Boss!
It’s like those first generation ATM’s You inserted your card. the machine swallowed it while you typed in your PIN and performed your transactions. When it was finished processing it spit your card back at you.
Please embrace the EMV chip card. It will improve security.
Swipe and Dip image courtesy of Sun Trust and the Wall Street Journal with minor edits by yours truly.