Navigating the EMV jungle: Four challenges facing the US

How have EMV challenges changed now that it’s stateside?

Al Roker was featured on the popular US morning show, The Today Show, in a segment they labeled as Al Roker has a chip on his shoulder about new credit card chips. He’s not alone. 

This was the one-year anniversary of the EMV deadline. And a survey found that 91% of debit card users and 87% of credit card users were frustrated with the chip card. And US retailers were still struggling with being fully EMV-ready.

We have been helping retailers in the US get up and running with EMV. We’ve been in this game for quite some time in Europe and other markets around the world.

Close up image of a credit card emv

Here are the top four challenges we see the US market so far:

1. The challenges of EMV certification

We’ve talked about how the challenges with certification have created a delay for many retailers.

To summarize, retailers have invested millions in CAPEX for new terminals. But the platforms behind these terminals are often not certified, and so retailers can’t do anything but revert to magstripe swiping.

The certification process is quite complex. There are many players along the value chain, each requiring their own certification with the schemes, which can take up to a year to do. This is a year during which you're are liable for fraudulent chargebacks.

Luckily, our solution is out-of-the-box EMV certified. So you can get up and running quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks.

2. Transaction time is too long

The process of a chip transaction can feel quite long, especially if you're used to the quick swipe. The shopper must dip the card, leave it in the terminal and then wait for the transaction to complete.

“They’re the worst…they’re the worst,” Roker exclaimed on the segment. “They take so long at the register!”

The length of time has caused concern for some retailers. In fact, those processing high volumes with low values have reverted back to swiping. This is because, to them, speed is more important than the additional protection.

Card schemes are working on solutions to make chip card transactions as fast as swiping. But in the meantime, there are a few ways to address this.

It is, of course up to you to determine whether faster transaction times are more important than the extra security. But bear in mind: contactless payment methods are faster than swiping.

And, with Apple Pay and Google Pay™️ growing in popularity, contactless payments will become more mainstream.

3. Confusion at the checkout

Shoppers in the US are never sure what they will be asked to do at checkout. Is it a dip or a swipe? A PIN or a sign?

Payments providers in the states have implemented EMV in a heterogeneous manner. Sometimes they have conflicting or puzzling interpretations of the rules. As a result, paying becomes confusing, leading to a frustrating checkout process.

Our solution is based on a stable and strict EMV implementation. So you can conduct transactions in a consistent way for all your shoppers in all your stores. You can prepare them for the actions they'll need to take and create an optimized checkout experience without the confusion.

4. Shoppers lack understanding of the benefits

So what is all this fuss for? Shoppers are frustrated by the transaction times and the confusions over how to handle the card. They often forget what chip cards are meant to do – and also what they don’t do.

Chip cards are designed to protect against card-present fraud, otherwise known as “skimming.” Remember the Target breach, when up to 40 million credit cards were compromised? And the Home Depot debacle that was even larger than Target’s with 56 million cards affected? It’s these card-skimming fraudsters that the EMV chip is designed to protect against.

This doesn’t mean that all fraud is protected; chip cards do nothing to defend against online fraud. And some folks are worried that fraudsters will start targeting online transactions instead.

Roker decried chip cards as “worthless” because he experienced fraud within the first week he received his new credit card. But he was calling foul at the wrong thing.

It wasn’t a chip card transaction that opened him (or his cameraman) to fraud. It was likely an online transaction where the chip card isn’t effective.

Implement EMV with Adyen

We're excited for EMV to gain traction in the US.

While there are still some growing pains, this is an important step toward protecting against skimming fraud.


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