Card transactions in the United States currently take forever to go through.
The average transaction takes a few seconds, but those seconds can really add up and slow down profits for companies. Mastercard wants to bring tech to the US that can save at least one second per transaction, making lines move faster and increasing profits for companies that take cards. This means retail companies can potentially increase the number of transaction they do per day.
The tech is called M/Chip. It is being implemented by several payment process leaders in North America, including Verifone. M/Chip is designed to make reading cards with chips much faster. If you’ve noticed that your transaction went through faster when you swiped your card, you aren’t being paranoid. This is 100% true. Chip readers are a mess right now, but Mastercard recognizes that user experience is important, so they’re aiming to fix that.
The US is Slow to Adapt Chip Cards
The UK has had chip card technology for a while, but the US has just begun using them in the past year or two. The promise is that they are more secure and faster than a regular card with a stripe.
Potentially they are, but anyone who checks out with them knows that this isn’t always the case. We blame the chip cards, but the fact is the readers are faulty – not the chips or the cards.
It’s only supposed to take a second or two for a chip card transaction to be improved but the technology is so slow that it can take up to five seconds or longer, and this is without the system going down. How many stores have you been to that has a sign on the chip reader saying it isn’t working right now? This forces you to swipe your card, and you probably sigh with relief because that is much easier than waiting for an ancient machine to approve your purchase.
Now, Mastercard wants the US to adopt newer technology based on their M/Chip readers.
This isn’t the first technology that Mastercard has introduced. They have new cards that allow you to use a chip and a fingerprint instead of a pin. Pin numbers are the weakest link in the two-part verification system of plastic cards. Pins are usually easily guessed, or bypassed and approved as credit. But with fingerprint technology, a person has to use something that is a little harder to fake.
The card is still in the trial stages and is only available in South Africa for now. Still, Mastercard has proved its willingness to break ground and make strides with technology, and use it to keep banking information as safe as possible.
While the US is a bit behind on tech, adapting the M/Chip readers is not an unreasonable request. It does come with a big question: how long is it going to take for this technology to become mainstream?
While Mastercard is a leader in the financial sector, they still can’t force financial institutions to adopt their card readers. They have to be able to sell them.
So what are the benefits?
Aside from faster transaction times, there probably aren’t very many. Mastercard may sweeten the pot a bit with a deal, but as consumers, we probably won’t be privy to that. What we will know is that once these readers are adapted, we’ll spend less time standing in line and more time getting to our destination.
Time is money, after all. No one seems to understand that better than Mastercard.