U.S. payment-card industry rivals have decided to come together, at least for a few days, to better navigate the gargantuan task of migrating to the modern EMV chip-card standard by 2015.

More than 100 industry executives, including representatives from all major card networks plus issuers and some merchants, plan to attend the initial meeting of the EMV Migration Forum organized by the Smart Card Alliance, the group announced July 31.

The Princeton Junction, N.J.-based alliance said the kickoff meeting, which has been several months in the making, will take place Sept. 12-13 at MasterCard's headquarters in Purchase, N.Y.

The first meeting is open to any interested parties, but future meetings will be open only to those that formally join the Forum, the nonprofit alliance says.

Response so far has been "overwhelmingly positive," Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, says.

Merchants also are showing strong interest in participating in the forum, he says.

The Merchant Advisory Group, the National Restaurant Association and the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technical Standards are among merchant industry groups that "are interested in hearing more about how they can become involved," Vanderhoof says.

Most major nations adopted EMV chip-card technology over the last several years. The switch to EMV has helped reduce counterfeit card fraud by blocking criminals' ability to easily use replicated magnetic-stripe card data. 

After years of debate, the card networks in recent months established the date of October 2015 as the time when liability will shift to the party with the weaker system. 

Industry experts say U.S. card networks, issuers and merchants will need to agree on various standards and processes to ensure a smooth and timely transition to the new card-security standard.

The first inklings of cross-industry cooperation surfaced in May when MasterCard issued a call for companies to reach consensus on the broad initiative.

The Smart Card Alliance made the next move, announcing the establishment of a website to provide EMV information and updates to U.S. payment industry players. 

To further aid the process, the alliance created the forum, which is open to issuers, processors, merchants, acquirers, global and regional payment networks, card services, industry suppliers, consultants, systems integrators, government organizations and other industry constituents.

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