Liability Shift for the Card Industry

Liability shift will not affect customers directly but more the issuers and acquirers. Liability shift is being driven by EMV, which means euro, MasterCard and Visa. These have come together and have found a way to minimize reasons why fraud is committed in the card industry.

Meaning of liability shift

Liability shift is a way for card associations to reduce card fraud. The associations (Visa and MasterCard) insist on card companies issue cards that are chip cards. Chip cards are also referred to as smart cards. The information for the card account is held in the chip with a default for magnetic stripe.

With liability shift, associations like visa and MasterCard have insisted that card manufactures, card issuers and card acquirers get certified for EMV. All card participants must get on board and different regions all have different dates by which they have to have been certified. Banking in Kenya has also been affected by these developments in liability shift.

EMV certification is a very technical and expensive exercise. Most countries in Africa have missed the deadlines or will miss the deadline due to lack of capital resources to have EMV certification.

How liability shift works

Liability shift is a tool that is being used by the associations to ensure that the card industry is EMV certified which will reduce card fraud. The liability for fraud on a card is being shifted from the merchant to the issuer and acquirer. Where an issuer has give cards that are EMV or chip, these cards use Personal identification number (PIN) to verify card transactions.  Where a chip card has to default to magnetic stripe because the merchant POS or ATM is not EMV certified, the card transaction is verified using signature on a paper receipt.

Signature is less secure than PIN because the signature is not verified at the cardholders account level on the card management system. Pin verification means that the PIN keyed on the POS or ATM is verified by the card management system. Where the PIN is wrong, the transaction will not be authorised. Charge backs for EMV cards will be allowed for most reasons where the merchant is not ENV certified.


How liability shift affects you

As a individual cardholder, the liability shift does not affect you. If you have a corporate card, the liability shift migration does not affect you either. As a card issuer, if your cards are not Chip, you will have a problem of having merchants that accept your cards because merchants will not want to accept card transactions from non-EMV cards. As merchants and Acquirers, liability shift is very important because if the POS and ATMs are not EMV certified, charge backs on transactions become the responsibility of the Merchant or acquirer.

Issuers, acquirers and card processors must ensure that they comply with the associations to become EMV compliant within the given time frames. Failure to comply will mean losses as the liability shift for charge backs will act as income leakages leading to failed, bankrupt and closed card companies.

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