Credit cards' newest security measure, the EMV chip, is already causing headaches for small businesses. Find out what an EMV chip does, and why small businesses are having problems with them. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

New credit cards with chips may be safer than the old magnetic stripe variety we all know. But they've caught a lot of unwanted attention lately, getting blamed for slumping user growth at Netflix, overwhelming small businesses and sparking a new round of consumer scams. The challenges that chip cards face may seem ubiquitous — at least in this latest news cycle. But how many people are actually using them? [Get ready to dip, not swipe, your credit cards] Payments company Square shared data with The Washington Post showing that, as of September, only 37 percent of the cards that Square vendors processed were chip cards.


(Courtesy of Square)

That matches well with data from the payment systems company ACI, which said last month that nearly 60 percent of surveyed users said they hadn't received the new cards yet. Retailers were told to get chip-card readers in stores by Oct. 1, after which they would have to pay the damages in case of a breach — that is, if the customer whose information was taken used a chip card. If there is a breach and the customer does not have a chip card, the liability falls to the card issuer. The idea behind the chip card is that it will be more secure than the magnetic strip cards we've been using for years. However, retailers and others have their own concerns about switching over to the technology. It's expensive for businesses to get new card readers; Square itself offered new card readers to its vendors to let them take both chipped and contactless payments. And, as my Post colleague Sarah Halzack has reported, there are also concerns that it takes longer to process each purchase at the register — something that could make holiday shopping lines even more frustrating. Some have questioned whether the chip cards are really worth the investment. While they are safer for in-store purchases, they're no more secure for online shopping. The chip-and-signature standard being pushed in the United States is also less secure than cards used in Europe, where people use chipped cards with PINs instead of a signature. Still, it's clear that we should all get used to using the chip cards. The data from Square only take us right up to the deadline, but it shows a definite increase. At the beginning of the year, only 12 percent of customers had the cards, but that number has risen steadily as more issuers have sent out new cards.