Visa is raising its stakes on chip-and-PIN credit cards.

The company on Tuesday launched a multi-pronged initiative to expand the use and acceptance of EMV-enabled credit cards in the U.S.

Visa said it’s offering certain incentives if retailers swap out their old-school payment systems with ones that take these cards. EMV is an acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the developers of the technology. Commonly used in Europe, EMV cards use a microchip to authorize a transaction instead of the traditional signature.

The company will waive the retailer’s fee to validate their compliance with an industry security standard each year if at least three-fourths of their transactions come from Visa EMV transactions.

Visa isn’t stopping there. It’s imposing deadlines, too. It will require companies that process Visa transactions and set up Visa relationships with retailers to support EMV cards by April 2013. And those retailers that don’t accept EMV cards (excluding online, or card-not-present, transactions) by October 2015 will also take on the fraud liability, Visa said.

So why should you care?

For one, EMV provides better security protection because the chip inside the card encrypts transaction information. Oftentimes, it’s a one-time encryption, so every transaction gets its own unique data. That makes it harder for thieves to steal your information and then use it for another purchase.

The magnetic stripe, on the other hand, is considered “static,” says Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, a nonprofit focused on helping to adopt smart card technology.

That means it’s easy to pick up the information on the strip and use it over and over for multiple transactions.

Second, EMV is commonly used outside the U.S. So if you’re a globetrotter, especially to Europe, you’ll find you can use your EMV-enabled cards at more places, such as train station kiosks and vending machines.

Several card issuers have seen this movement coming. U.S. Bank, Chase, Wells Fargo and several credit unions, among others, have recently introduced EMV-enabled credit cards.

What about you: Do you want an EMV credit card? Why or why not?

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