Chip and PIN Cards are not about you – the Consumer

An important message to my banker and retailer friends: Shoppers won’t grasp the benefits of Chip and PIN Cards, so get over it and move on.

The reason the vast majority of shoppers won’t grasp the benefits of Chip and PIN is because Chip and PIN is more about keeping the bad guys from stealing money from bank card issuers and retailers – not from the consumer.

Consumers are protected from the bad guys by some pretty strong consumer protection laws that favor them over banks/retailers when a card is compromised.

The benefits analogy is akin to consumers choosing to shop at one store over the other because the security cameras are better. Do you care if Walmart has better security cameras than Safeway. I don’t care, and I’d bet you never even thought about it.

Consumers simply want a convenient, fast, hassle-free way to pay. Card security is an expectation – not a benefit – so don’t be disappointed if consumers don’t get it if you try to hype it that way.

And, like all expectations, it’s important only when it’s missing, as was the case for Target and a host of other retailers over the past few years.

My expectation is my card and personal information is safe, so it has zero impact when choosing which card I’ll be pulling out of the wallet at the POS. When the expectation is not met, I simply change behavior – In my case I cut up the Bank of America Visa Card I used at Target during the breach window and now pull another card out of the wallet to pay and move on.

Sure, security is part of the story when banks start issuing chip cards and when retailers refuse to take mag-stripe only cards. Consumers will get it in the same way they get it when they look up and see a security camera on the ceiling.

My message to banks and retailers: It’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade your security infrastructure. Because if you don’t the problem (and cost) will simply grow exponentially. But don’t waste effort to rationalize the move as a “consumer benefit.”