Members of Affinity CU will receive EMV cards from the credit union during the third quarter of 2014.

The $2.3 billion-asset credit union will take a phased approach, with 55,000 Affinity Visa cardholders converting first, and then debit cardholders sometime afterward.

Payments experts have recommended that financial institutions convert the credit card base first and hold off on switching out debit due to uncertainty surrounding debit swipe fees and routing provisions.

In July, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon struck down the new limits on swipe fees and the routing provisions under the Durbin rules. The Federal Reserve has appealed the ruling, and the case is expected to play out in court in the first half of the year.

Affinity decided to make the move to get well ahead of the October 2015 Visa and MasterCard liability shift deadline, and to let members know the CU is concerned about security of member data.

"Implementing this change allows us to remain competitive and ahead of the curve," says Donna LoStocco, SVP of member experience, who noted that the move also sets Affinity apart from other financial institutions. "We also want them to be able to use their plastic overseas."

Affinity has 25% of its membership living or working outside the U.S., another reason for converting to EMV this year. Cards will be replaced as they expire, and the CU will focus on its international members first.

LoStocco added that while Affinity had been planning the conversion prior to the Target Corp. data breach, she added, "The current environment certainly supports this initiative."

Many merchants are still not ready with EMV at POS, but analysts say retailers are moving. So are more CUs. Last month the $200 million Firefighters Community CU in Cleveland committed to converting its credit card base to EMV.

Affinity AVP Eileen Grogan said merchant readiness is not a concern.

"In Washington and New York City, cities with a lot of international travelers, we see many merchants coming on board with EMV at POS. We know some merchants will wait, but we are confident that by the time the October 2015 liability shift deadline arrives that the majority of the major retailers will have EMV."

The New-York based United Nations FCU was the first FI in the country to migrate to EMV.

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