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American Express Co. has become the fourth owner-member of EMVCo LLC, the international organization that maintains the global EMV antifraud standard found on chip payment cards around the world. AmEx joins MasterCard Worldwide, Visa Inc. and Japan's JCB International as owners of the organization. Since EMVCo was founded in 1999, financial institutions around the world, especially those in Europe and Asia, have issued at least 730 million EMV-compliant cards and have helped deploy some 9.9 million EMV terminals, an EMVCo spokesperson tells CardLine sister publication CardLine Global. EMV migration efforts, which are most advanced in such countries as the United Kingdom, France and Malaysia, recently have come to Canada, Mexico, Brazil and other parts of the Americas, with the notable exception of the United States. AmEx joined the group to play a closer role in the evolution of the EMV standard, including its move to include contactless cards, an AmEx spokesperson tells CardLine Global. AmEx's membership will help encourage interoperable payment systems around the world and help the card company's merchants and issuers use the standard, the spokesperson says. AmEx has issued EMV cards in the United Kingdom, the spokesperson says. AmEx bought a 25% stake in EMVCo, but neither the AmEx spokesperson nor EMVCo would disclose the amount. Despite having no direct role in EMVCo's activities for the past decade, AmEx does not believe it has missed out on chances to help guide the direction of the technology, the AmEx spokesperson says. AmEx's decision to buy a stake in EMVCo. represents a "natural progression" for one of the world's largest issuers, Adil Moussa, an analyst at United States-based Aite Group, tells CardLine Global. "It also shows a greater collaboration among the players [in the card market] that need to get closer together to fight different attacks from fraudsters," he adds. Demand for EMV cards will continue to grow, Moussa says, perhaps even in the United States as fraudsters mount more-sophisticated attacks against card-payment systems. Issuers in the United States, though, have shown no strong signs of wanting to adopt the EMV standard, though some observers speculate that could change if fraud moves from EMV countries such as Canada and Mexico into the U.S.


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