COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — CO-OP Financial Services on Thursday said it will offer a subsidy to clients switching to EMV cards that will total $9.1 million.

Caroline Willard, CO-OP's EVP, markets and strategy, said the company was seeing many credit unions — especially smaller ones — "daunted" by the cost of switching to EMV cards. The liability shift date is Oct. 1.

"We didn't want cost to be a reason for them not to do it," said Willard.

CO-OP will waive the implementation fee it receives, which is $6,000 per CU, explained Michelle Thornton, director of product development. If credit unions choose generic cards, CO-OP likewise will waive fees for those.

Willard said this is the "right thing to do," while acknowledging that if all card transactions are secure it helps all parties.

"We are excited because this is the first time credit unions will be getting a break on liability for card fraud," said Willard. "This is a tough nut to crack for small institutions. It is important for credit unions to get up and running as fast as they want to."

Thornton said CO-OP is still working out the details of how credit unions will sign up. The company declined to say how many processing clients it has.

"Even if they delay, we still will help," said Thornton. "Some credit unions have limited budgets and we didn't want them to have to make a tough choice between EMV and something else."

The $9.1 billion figure is a cap, and will be first come, first served, but Willard said CO-OP anticipates that will be sufficient for all of its clients.

Although the liability shift date is coming up fast, Willard and Thornton said some CUs are considering delaying implementation. However, Willard said in the wake of all the data breaches in recent years, some CUs are feeling "pressure" to make the switch as members are asking about EMV cards.

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