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While it’s important that Walmart is offering chip cards, the greater significance will be its promotion of their use, says Rick Oglesby, senior analyst at Double Diamond Payments Research. “They will obviously promote the cards and the use of its cards in-store so it represents a big opportunity for public exposure to EMV,” Oglesby says. That will make a difference when other issuers are trying to decide when they should start issuing EMV cards to the general population, he says.

“Walmart has long been pushing for EMV adoption in the United States, so it’s no great surprise that the cards they will be issuing will be EMV-ready,” Oglesby adds. “The company also has stated that they can be EMV-ready quickly in their stores due to their existing PIN-terminal infrastructure and experience with EMV internationally. So they are addressing EMV from both the issuing and merchant sides of the spectrum.”

He says the Sam’s Club cards, in particular, are geared more to the rewards features, which includes cash back on certain purchases up to $5,000 annually, than to getting consumers to switch to EMV. “Benefits are important parts of card offerings in general,” Oglesby says, “but I don’t think we’re on the verge of seeing a lot of EMV-specific incentive programs.”

Digital Transactions, June 5, 2014