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Walmart Exec Foresees Holiday ‘Anarchy’ From Credit Card Conversion

This month’s mandated switch to new chip-embedded credit cards is bound to cause chaos this holiday season, a Walmart executive has warned.

Speaking at a Money20/20 payment conference on Monday, Walmart payment services senior director John Drechny said the changeover is already “forcing anarchy” on the payments world, and that checkout delays will only grow worse during the busy holiday season as shoppers and seasonal workers get stymied at the counter.

The problem: The new EMV (Europay, Master-Card and Visa) smart cards must be dipped and held in place within the new card readers, rather than swiped, which adds time, and often confusion, to the process.

Drechny said Walmart has long been preparing for the changeover, and has cut the extra transaction time from as much as 12 seconds a year ago to one second today. However, “most merchants … are where we were a year ago,” he noted.

The smart cards are considered more hackresistant than older magnetic strip versions, and banks and other plastic providers have compelled retailers to adopt the new technology by Oct. 1 or take financial responsibility for any credit or debit card fraud.