Over the past two years or so, retailers and payment processors in the United States have been buzzing about the country’s shift to EMV, a more secure payment standard for credit and debit cards. This new standard will replace the traditional magnetic stripe cards (AKA “swipe-and-sign”) with chip cards, a breed of debit and credit cards that’s considered more effective in preventing fraud.
If you’ve been following this issue, you know that the deadline for the upcoming EMV transition is on October 1 of this year. On this date, payment card companies will enforce a Fraud Liability Shift (FLS) policy, which will transfer liability for certain fraudulent transactions to the least EMV-compliant party.
For retailers, this means that if you don’t have the equipment and software to support EMV technology, you are by default the least compliant party and will be held liable for fraudulent charges made through chip-and-pin cards.
Now, October may be months away, but this doesn’t mean retailers can afford to wait until next quarter to get the ball rolling on EMV compliance. As TouchSuite’s managing director Gary Rutledge notes, procrastinating on EMV could spell major delays for retailers—particularly small and medium businesses.
“There are literally tens of millions points of purchase in the US, and if everybody waited until the middle or third quarter of 2015 and decided to make a mad rush to get equipment, the logistics of that would be impossible,” he said to us in a previous interview.
“If you think about Best Buy, or any other big chain with thousands of stores and tens of thousands of points of purchase, and they get in front of you in line, it’s going to be very difficult for you to push through the crowds and the noise to try to get your smaller number, 10-location retailer [or a merchant with even fewer outlets] up and running.”
Retailers are already experiencing delays for equipment delivery
True enough, we can already see this happening. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a trade group for retail food stores and pharmacies, recently asked Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discovery to move the EMV transition deadline to 2016, stating that merchants are facing a 16-week delay for deliveries of EMV-ready equipment.
Despite the FMI’s request, it’s unlikely that the deadline will be moved. Reps from the card companies told the WSJ that they don’t intend to extend the October 2015 deadline.
Needless to say, it’s high time to get a move on with EMV. Further delaying action could result in you falling behind and not getting your equipment on time, thus opening you up to fraud liability.
Training could take some time
Delays aren’t the only reason to get your business EMV-ready as soon as possible. You also need to consider the time you need to spend educating your staff about the technology. It’s important to remember that the process for accepting payments through EMV cards is quite different from that of magnetic stripe cards. Instead of quickly swiping their cards, customers will have to insert or “dip” their EMV cards into the reader and leave it there until the transaction is complete.
This is yet another reason merchants should start migrating to EMV immediately. In addition to the time it takes to apply, certify, and set up the technology, you’ll also need to allow training time for your staff.
Because retailers and consumers are new to EMV, you’ll need to take some time to educate your staff and help them get used to the process. Failing to do this properly could result in checkout inefficiencies, longer lines, and dissatisfied customers. Given that many retailers will likely get their equipment right before the holiday season, the last thing you want is to have your staff fumbling with the equipment during the busiest shopping time of the year.
No time to waste
As we noted above, the October 1 deadline for EMV migration shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s time to stop procrastinating and get started on your store’s shift to EMV. Fortunately, migrating to this new payment standard should be relatively seamless, inexpensive, and stress-free if you have the right POS and payment partners.
Vend users, for example, can rely on Mercury, a merchant services and credit card processing company that integrates with POS systems and enables users to accept the most common card brands and payment types—including EMV.
Mercury has a dedicated representative for Vend users who are looking to switch payment processors and upgrade to EMV. Not only will your rep be able to answer all your questions regarding the technology, he’ll also see to it that you get set up in the most cost-effective way possible by matching the lowest credit card rates and providing you with a free EMV terminal.
Not using Mercury? You can still implement EMV through a non-integrated payment processor. Get in touch with your payment provider, talk to them about your existing setup (i.e., equipment and POS system), and together you can work out the best way to begin the transition.
Additional EMV resources
While the best way to learn about EMV is to talk to your payment and technology providers, you can conduct initial research (or do further reading) through the following resources:
- EMV Connection – Developed by the Smart Card Alliance, EMV Connection is a site that assists all industry stakeholders with EMV migration. This page is packed with educational merchant resources on everything EMV–from technology basics to detailed guidance on what you need to consider to develop the roadmap to accept EMV cards and devices.
- EMV 101: What It Is and Why Every US Retailer Should Care – Vend’s primer on EMV technology and the upcoming fraud liability shift.
- Transitioning to EMV: Smart and Simple Tips for Getting Ready – A guide that offers an overview of the steps you need to take the migrate to EMV.
- Why Switching to EMV May Not Be as Stressful or as Expensive as You Fear… – This retailer’s story proves that shifting to EMV doesn’t have to be a stressful or expensive ordeal if you have the right payment and tech partners.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.