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Sam’s Club Becomes First Major Retailer to Adopt EMV Cards

Sam’s Club co-branded MasterCard credit cards will now include EMV-chip technology for improved security.

With payments security a hot topic in the aftermath of the retailer data breaches last year, Sam’s Club announced this week that it would be the first major retailer to offer co-branded EMV-chip cards for improved security.

The new cards will be co-branded with MasterCard and issued by GE Capital Retail Bank.

“MasterCard has taken a strong stance on the need for the U.S. market to make the transition to chip-enabled credit cards for the benefit of cardholders and merchants alike,” Chris McWilton, MasterCard’s president of North America, said in a statement announcing the move.

EMV-chip technology gained a great deal of attention after data breaches aimed at major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus resulted in the loss of tens of millions of customers’ card credentials last year. Retailers initially blamed the loss of those credentials on the slow adoption of EMV technology in the U.S. market, and many players in the payments system called for faster adoption of the technology.

[For More on EMV and the Aftermath of Last Year’s Breaches: Banks and Retailers Face Off Over Target Breach and EMV Adoption]

Although EMV technology wouldn’t have stopped the malware that caused those data breaches, but it would have made it difficult for criminals to use the stolen credentials. EMV would cost billions to implement in both replacing current customers cards and point of sale systems that are not EMV compatible. Who shoulders that cost is still an issue that needs to be worked out. But after the damage Target experienced after its data breach, major retailers are probably more interested in adopting EMV now, regardless of the cost, to avoid a similar incident.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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