The U.S. edges out Western Europe for second most EMV chip cards deployed

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American financial institutions have surpassed 1 billion EMV chip cards in force to take second place in total EMV cards deployed, behind only the global leader, Asia Pacific.

EMVCo, the governing body that manages EMV card interoperability, released its Dec. 31, 2019 statistics which revealed that the U.S. had 1.074 billion EMV chip-enabled credit, debit and prepaid cards deployed compared to 1.04 billion for Western Europe, which is represented as Zone 1 in its data. Only the U.S. is represented as a single country zone in EMVCo statistics, whereas all other countries are grouped into various regions.

The Asia Pacific region, which has some of the world’s most populous countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Japan, continues to lead the world with EMV chip cards deployed at 6.226 billion at the end of 2019, up from 5 billion in 2018 and 4.147 billion at the end of 2017.

Globally, the biggest in EMV card deployments in 2019 came from Asia Pacific, with over 1.2 billion new EMV cards deployed, followed by the U.S. with 232 million, and 75 million in the Canada, Latin America and Caribbean region. EMVCo defines Europe Zone 2 to include Eastern Europe, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In terms of transactions processed using EMV chip card technology, including contactless — which is experiencing a surge in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic — both Western European zones continue to maintain global leadership positions. About 98% of all transactions in Zone 1 (Western Europe) were processed in 2019 using EMV chip cards compared to almost 61% of transactions processed in the U.S.

One major factor in Europe leading EMV chip card processed transactions is that both zones exceed 80% levels of chip card penetration as opposed 63% in the U.S. and almost 77% in Asia Pacific.

Another factor contributing to lower EMV transaction levels is the U.S.has been late to adopt chip-card payments, compared to many European countries.

A final factor influencing lower American EMV processed transactions has been the delay in liability shift for gas pumps. Originally when liability shift occurred for most American merchants in October 2015, automated fuel dispensers were offered a two-year reprieve to October 2017. However, after two different reprieves Visa, Mastercard and American Express have now all delayed EMV liability shift for that industry to April 2021.

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