Are YOU ready for EMV? Are you confused about EMV? Let’s unravel the mystery.

| September 23, 2015
Wynn Salisch

Wynn Salisch

It’s no secret that payment card fraud is a growing problem all over the world. That’s why EMV has become such a popular topic and you’re starting to see financial institutions and credit card issuers slowly begin to issue EMV-enabled cards to their accountholders. To make sure that you’re in the know about EMV and chip card technology, let’s answer some of the most common questions surrounding EMV.

What is EMV? EMV stands for Europay International, MasterCard, and Visa. It helps stop counterfeiting and fraudulent payments. Rather than a magnetic stripe, EMV uses a microprocessor chip embedded in the card. EMV-enabled cards can be either debit cards or credit cards and are often referred to as chip cards or smart cards.

What does an EMV chip provide? It offers enhanced cardholder verification, makes it virtually impossible for criminals to counterfeit cards, and validates the authenticity of each transaction with a unique digital signature.

Are there any other benefits to EMV? Yes! They include lower stolen card fraud (when verified by a PIN – more on this shortly), fewer chargebacks because EMV verifies that the cardholder was present, and more satisfied customers because cardholders know their card will work; this is especially important for travelers from other countries where EMV cards are prevalent. Overseas, “chip-and-PIN” is the most widely used EMV solution, but here in the U.S. the card-issuing banks have chosen to start off with chip-and-signature which doesn’t require the guest to enter a PIN.

What is the October 1st liability shift I keep hearing about? This October, merchants without EMV capability in their POS system will become financially liable for any resulting card-present (face-to-face) counterfeit card losses. There are at present no fines or penalties for not using EMV to process chip cards; your risk exposure is currently limited to the transaction value. If a card doesn’t have a chip, the bank will continue to bear financial responsibility for the transaction and you won’t be held liable.

What do merchants need to do? Eventually all merchants will need equipment that has a smart card reader for chip cards, in addition to a magnetic stripe reader. The easiest way to tell if your terminal is EMV-capable is to see if it has a slot on the front where the consumer would insert their card. In order for the terminal to be fully EMV-ready, it also needs the right software application, which can be obtained by downloading it from your merchant services provider. This means that if you already have an EMV-capable terminal, you shouldn’t have to buy a new terminal to accept EMV cards.

When should a merchant upgrade their POS equipment? How soon you need to upgrade your POS equipment depends on your business. If you have foreign customers or are located in a large city and many of your customers are from outside the U.S., then you should start planning to support EMV. If you’re located in a rural area, you can monitor how many EMV-enabled cards you get in your business and use that as a basis for when to upgrade your equipment. Keep in mind that by upgrading your equipment you will also be able to accept new forms of payment, like Apple Pay, because most EMV terminals also come with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology for “tap-and-go” transactions using mobile wallets.

If and when you do upgrade, be careful about the cost of any new equipment like a new countertop credit card terminal that may be needed. Some processors have been known to double or triple the wholesale cost of the equipment when quoting prices to merchants; in general (and there are exceptions of course), a good EMV- and NFC-capable brand new terminal should cost around $300, give or take.

More questions? Just ask us! All of our help is completely free and without obligation. We’ll give you the latest unbiased information in a clear and understandable way, and we can also help you reduce your payment processing costs and get better service from your processor. Just email or call Wynn Salisch of Casablanca Ventures at or 203-253-7259.

About the author: Wynn J. Salisch has directed entertainment venues ranging from over 1000 cinemas worldwide to 16,000-seat stadium, live theater, hotel, and restaurant properties, and is an experienced payment processing and data security advisor to hundreds of companies nationwide. He is a Partner in the New York Electronic Crimes Task Force of the U.S. Secret Service and a member of numerous entertainment and hospitality industry trade and professional associations.

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