'Massive' switch to new credit cards ahead

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Why the US was slow to adopt secure credit cards

Consumers can expect a flurry of thick, credit-card-carrying mail as some banks attempt to get high-tech chip cards into their hands before the holidays.

The catalyst: A series of high-profile security breaches at U.S. retailers caused an acceleration of a multi-year transition to the chip-and-pin technology.

A year ago, credit card issuers thought the Europe-led move toward Europay, Mastercard and Visa (or EMV) cards—which require a unique user code rather than an anonymous swipe—would bypass the U.S., said Paul Kleinschnitz, senior vice president in the cybersecurity group at First Data.

"After a larger breach like with Home Depot, " Kleinschnitz said, "they said, 'We're not going to take this trickle approach. We're going to do a massive reissuance as soon as possible.'"