Chip and Dip: When Will You Take the New Type of Credit Card?

Banks and credit-card issuers are switching from strip-based to microchip-based smart cards. This means practices eventually will have to buy new credit-card processing terminals and software to accept payments from patients.

The chip cards use new EMV (for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) technology to protect consumers from fraud. Instead of swiping their credit or debit cards, consumers will "dip" their chip cards into a terminal slot.

While there is no hard deadline for businesses to accept EMV cards, as of Oct. 1, 2015, medical practices and other businesses that do not upgrade to EMV technology may be held liable for fraudulent credit card charges. As of that date it will no longer be the credit card issuers' liability.

The first round of EMV cards will be equipped with both chip and magnetic-stripe functions so merchants can adjust, according to CreditCards.com. But you'll need to make the switch to a new terminal sooner rather than later to keep up with the times. Modern Healthcare reports on research that finds 63 percent of U.S. cards and 47 percent of terminals used across all industries to process transactions will be converted to EMV technology by Oct. 1.

The EMV terminals can accommodate magnetic swipe cards, so you can still process payments from patients whose banks have not yet issued them a chip card. You'd be protected from liability because you had adopted the new technology.

Watch out for scams. Earlier this year, the TMA Knowledge Center became aware of physicians' offices receiving calls from a "credit card company" saying they needed to switch to a "medical credit card system" and pay for training. Instead, when you are ready to change over to EMV technology, turn to your payment processing service (for example, TMA's endorsed vendor, TSYS®) or whatever reputable seller or equipment leaser you would normally go to for a payment terminal.

Published July 10, 2015

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October 13, 2017