How an EMV

Learn how an EMV "chip" credit card transaction works and how it differs from a traditional magnetic stripe card.

Money & Credit

How an EMV "Chip" Credit Card Works

There's been alot of talk recently about the transition to EMV credit cards. Credit card companies are beginning to issue them and D.C. practices should be ready to process these "chip" credit cards.


To begin with, it would be helpful to understand the detail of what happens during an EMV chip credit card transaction and how it differs from a magnetic stripe transaction.

During a Transaction

Rather than swiping cards with a magnetic stripe, your patients will insert EMV cards into your terminal. Another option is to tap the card on the terminal, if your terminal is equipped with Near Field Communication technology. The chip in the EMV card encrypts cardholder information and creates a new encryption for every transaction. Even if the encryption is accessed, it is never valid again, which reduces the risk of fraud. When the card is inserted, the encryption is sent to and read by the card issuer, who approves the transaction. This process helps protects both your patient and you, the business owner, from a fraudulent transaction.

EMV transactions rely on a secondary level of security: PINs or signatures. After your patient's credit card is inserted, they will provide this information to further authenticate the card and his or her identity. Most U.S. cardholders and credit card processors now use signatures during transactions, so the majority of EMV transactions also will use signatures. As users become more familiar with EMV technology, however, the process will likely switch to PINs, as they are more secure.

Completing a Transaction

After an EMV card has been inserted into the terminal and authenticated, it takes about the same amount of time to process the payment on the back end as with magnetic stripe transactions. 

Despite a brief learning curve for both cardholders and D.C.s, the transition to EMV cards will result in increased security for you and your patients.

Did You Know?

NCMIC Finance Corporation is a principal member of Visa, MasterCard and Discover and offers full-service credit card processing solutions, including EMV-compatible equipment. We are actively helping our merchants with the EMV transition by providing training and technical support.

If you have questions regarding EMV card acceptance, please call us at 1-800-396-7157, ext. 5606.


The information in the NCMIC Learning Center is offered solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as, nor does it represent, legal or professional advice. Neither does this information constitute a guideline, practice parameter or standard of care. You should not act or rely upon this information without seeking the advice of an attorney familiar with the specific legal requirements of the state(s) in which you practice. If there is a discrepancy between the site and an insurance policy you have with NCMIC, the policy will prevail.