Durbin Takes Aim At Card Networks Over Chip Cards


Dick Durbin is not very pleased with EMVCo.

Ars Technica reports that, last week, the Illinois senator sent a strongly worded letter to the chip card consortium (whose member companies are American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay and Visa) with regards to its handling of the card rollout in the U.S. Among the issues Sen. Durbin raised, he accused the organization of impeding retailers’ efforts to gain EMV certification and delaying the requirement of PIN authorization in order to financially benefit the card networks.

Sen. Durbin’s letter-writing regarding the issue didn’t stop there, with Ars Technica noting that the Illinois Democrat additionally sent a missive to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requesting that the agency “examine how flaws and delays in the [EMV] certification process can be addressed.”

Citing a February survey from The Strawhecker Group, Ars Technica notes that only 37 percent of U.S. merchants — dating back to the Oct. 2015 liability shift deadline — were capable of processing EMV transactions at that time.

Durbin, as the outlet observes, does not appear to be dividing the blame for the delay equally between the retailers and the networks, instead placing most of it on the latter. In his letter to EMVCo, the senator wrote: “The process of establishing EMV specifications is opaque, stakeholder participation is limited, decision-making is dominated and exclusively controlled by only six companies, EMVCo standards have been technologically inadequate and their implementation has caused chaos in the U.S. market and consensus has been lacking.”

In his letter, Durbin also addressed the lawsuits that retailers have filed over the issues with EMV card rollout, such as B&R Supermarkets did against all the card networks in March and Walmart did against Visa just last week.

Added the senator in his written remarks: “I am concerned that EMVCo’s controlling networks, most of whom have fiercely advocated against PINs because of their financial stake in signature transactions, may be preventing EMVCo from stating a clear position on the benefits of PIN.”