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Switch To Safer 'Chip' Cards Not Happening Fast Enough For Some Consumers

(CBS) -- For some shoppers, Christmas will be a lot safer this year. Banks are beginning to roll out the more secure "chip," or EMV, cards, and some retailers are ready to accept them.

But the transition to the chip isn't happening as fast as consumers would like.

What's taking so long? CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports.

Unlike consumers who still use one of the 1 billion magnetic stripe cards, Walmart shopper Sara Volk De Garcia inserts her chip card into the card reader.

"It's reassuring that I'm less of a target now," Volk De Garcia says.

That reassurance comes with the more secure chip card, which protects credit card information from thieves. Only 100 million cards have the chip. And Walmart shopper Kathy Smith wishes she had one.

"Right now I'm afraid to shop, really, at any store because everybody's stealing everyone's information," Smith says.

According to a recent survey by MasterCard, 40 percent of debit card users and 35 percent of credit card users want the chip card today.

What's the holdup?

"There's a lot of moving pieces. All of them require some time to make those changes," says Randy Vanderhoof, director of EMV Migration Forum.

Banks have to issue 1 billion new cards. Merchants need to install new equipment to read the cards, and the companies that process the transactions have to upgrade their systems.

The cost is estimated to be $8 billion.

"Sometimes we liken the migration to EMV in the U.S to redoing all of the on-ramps for the highways across the country. This is a significant undertaking," says Carolyn Balfany, Senior Vice President at MasterCard.

Banks and merchants only have until October 2015 to convert to the chip system. If they don't, they could be financially responsible for any fraud. At this point, only a few retailers have working chip readers.

Gregory Hyundai auto is one of them.

"Most people are surprised. I don't think most people pay attention to their cards and that they have a chip in it," cashier Lakisha Hampton says.

Walmart is among the few major retailers using chip readers. Other major merchants like Target have the machines but haven't turned them on and won't have them on by Christmas. But makers of the readers, including VeriFone, say customer demands will make merchants move faster.

"Consumers will start having an expectation of secure shopping," according to VeriFone Vice President of Global Product Marketing, Erik Vlugt.

MasterCard said by 2017, all consumers should have the chip cards and merchants will be able to accept them.

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