The Truth About EMV in the US: How Easy is EMV for Merchants?

Last updated: 13 December 2019

EMV is a hot topic among merchants, banks, and card issuers in the U.S.  Along with the new technology comes an abundance of rumors, myths, and half-truths.  We recently discussed two important questions, Is EMV Coming or Not?, and Can We Skip EMV and Jump Straight to Mobile Payments?  Today we’re discussing a popular EMV myth from the merchants’ point of view.

Myth #3:  EMV is expensive and difficult for merchants to deploy.

The Truth: EMV payment technology has gotten cheaper and easier for merchants to install.  It opens the door to a host of new benefits that many merchants love.

Many merchants have realized that EMV terminals are easier to install than they once thought and the technology provides a slew of new benefits. Not only will merchants see fewer fraudulent transactions from counterfeit and stolen cards, but they’ll benefit from increased revenue as rollouts of contactless EMV cards and mobile payment methods continue. Contactless provides a higher level of convenience for customers and will speed check-out at the point of sale. Contactless EMV transactions (the kind where the customer simply taps a card or mobile phone to the terminal, using NFC technology) are much quicker than contact transactions. This means shorter lines at check-out.

Many EMV terminals will be upgraded to support mobile payments as well, giving consumers convenient and secure payment options.  And merchants will have more sophisticated channels at their disposal to engage with customers.  Chip card and smartphone payments could make the promise of additional revenue from loyalty offers and mobile marketing a reality.

Another benefit to merchants comes from accepting EMV cards from international tourists visiting the United States, which reduces cross-border fraud because an EMV terminal will require the use of the EMV card’s chip capabilities and forbid the use of the magnetic stripe on the back of the card.

Additionally, merchants can take advantage of incentives offered by the payment brands to help offset the cost of upgrading terminals.  For example, the incentive to eliminate mandatory annual PCI audits for merchants who process 75% of their transactions from an EMV hybrid terminal (that is a terminal capable of processing both contact and contactless transactions).

Migrating to EMV is made easier for U.S. merchants because suppliers have learned  valuable lessons during the point-of-sale system upgrades in other countries. These previous experiences will alleviate some of the potential headaches that US merchants could face.

In our next EMV related blog, we’ll discuss another myth that surrounds EMV: Does it address the Card-Not-Present problem?

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