Businesses adapt to new chip-card readers for customer safety

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COLUMBIA - Consumers might notice their debit and credit cards have a slightly different look now.

More and more cards are featuring chip technology, which is designed to better protect people's financial information.

On Thursday, some Columbia businesses starting learning how to work new EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) "smart card" technology.

Jennie Snapp is the manager of Britches Clothing in downtown Columbia, and said her store had the new card readers installed just on Tuesday.

"It's pretty new to us," Snapp said. "We obviously got it because it is required, and we want to make sure that we are doing the safest thing possible for ourselves and our customers."

Thursday was the deadline for businesses to upgrade their registers to accept chip-cards. The switch was designed to better protect against fraud.

Snapp said learning how to use the new technology takes time.

"It's been a little slow for us just to get a hang of the process, but for the most part it's been great," Snapp said. "Customers are pretty amazed by it."

Snapp said it takes more time for the technology to read the chip than it does for a magnetic strip.

"We have to insert the card and let it sit there while it, you know, reads the chip and does everything," Snapp said. "It's not just a simple swipe anymore."

Ann Neal is a local customer and said she thinks the switch will make shopping safer for the consumer, even if it takes more time.

"I just think it's a good idea that the credit card companies are going to this," Neal said. "I think there will be less stealing of identity."

Other Columbia businesses have recently switched to the chip-reader technology, too. Gene Lacey is a sales associate at Downtown Appliance Home Center, and said there are many benefits to using the new technology.

"Hopefully this will help and get rid of a lot of people's cards information getting stolen," Lacey said. 

If businesses do not have the updated technology for chip-card holders, they could be held liable for fraudulent credit card purchases, rather than banks or credit card issuers.