American Express Co. is issuing EMV chip-and-signature cards to its corporate card customers in the U.S., starting in the first half of 2013, the card brand announced April 23.

The corporate card customers will be able to use the EMV cards at merchant locations accepting American Express in any country using the EMV standard, Amex states in a press release.

Amex's premium card portfolios will be the first to receive the EMV cards this year, the company says.

Amex offers chip-and-PIN and chip-and-signature card capabilities across its global markets, allowing merchants and card issuers to adopt the EMV technology that "best meets their individual market needs," Amex says.

"In some countries, chip technology is becoming standard for card authorizations," Darryl Brown, Amex's president of global corporate payments for Americas, states in the release. "The new chip-and-signature cards will help U.S. corporate card members avoid disruptions while traveling internationally."

The chip-and-signature cards employ dynamic encryption technology, which makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to copy or access card information, the company says.  

When announcing its EMV roadmap for the U.S. in June 2012 and aligning liability shift dates with other card brands for October 2015, Amex said it would issue chip-based cards in late 2012.

At that time, Amex also explained it would assign liability to the party with the least secure technology. If an issuer supports EMV chip-and-PIN but the merchant supports a less secure form of EMV (or none at all), the merchant ultimately takes responsibility for fraud losses.

In response to an inquiry about why Amex chose chip-and-signature at this time, Brown sent an e-mail to PaymentsSource stating the company continues to evaluate both chip-based technologies for the U.S.

The card networks and other companies have debated whether chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature should be favored in the U.S.

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