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You, Me & EMV

May 23, 2016 4:48:56 PM

EMV Basics

EMV is a lot like a new puppy.  It has the best intentions, wants to protect you, and show you how much it loves you.  However, since it is new to this world it tends to just get in your way at first.

While EMV has been around for a while, it is very new here in the US, and can be very confusing for consumers, merchants, and processors alike.



The concept of EMV is good and should be embraced…like a puppy!  Let’s begin with the security.  When an EMV transaction is run, the chip on your card creates a unique code on the fly for that specific transaction.  No two transactions get the same code and that code, along with your card information, is turned into a series of letters & numbers called a “token”.  This token makes the information and transaction virtually impossible to duplicate.

This is great news considering all of the “credit card breaches” at major corporations we hear about in the news lately.  Of course like any new technology, it comes with its own set of problems.

How does this effect the merchant?

Merchants are now required to have EMV capable equipment.  If they do not, they may be held responsible for fraudulent transactions.  This means if a consumer files a chargeback for a fraudulent transaction and the merchant did not have the proper equipment when the credit card was swiped, the merchant will automatically lose 100% of the amount of the transaction, plus a chargeback fee.*  This can mean additional costs for the merchant not only in chargeback fees, but in the purchase of the proper equipment.  Merchants should check with their processor to make sure they are using the proper equipment for their business.

How does this effect the credit card processor?

Processors have the unenviable task of upgrading their entire clientele with the proper equipment.  For some processors this is an opportunity to sell new equipment or “compliance services” to their existing client base.  Others actually upgrade their clients’ equipment at no cost, in some cases having to purchase completely new equipment for their longer standing clients. 

How does this effect the consumer?

emv4-1.jpgGone are the days of simply swiping and entering in our PINs, instead we have to insert our cards into a slot and leave it there until the transaction is complete (much like ATMs).  I have been in stores and have seen people struggle with this.  I’ve seen everything from people cursing the credit card terminal to leaving the store without their card because they forgot it was in the machine.  In addition, EMV transactions take longer, anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds.  This may not seem like much, but considering a non-EMV transaction took under 5 seconds in most cases, it can feel like an eternity.  While more time consuming, the consumer should be grateful that the transaction they’ve just completed is much more secure.


Like it or not EMV is here to stay and will likely see several more changes in the coming years. 

If you’re a merchant, make sure you are with a processor that supports you and does not charge you for mandatory upgrades.

As a consumer, remember that EMV is ultimately for your protection and will make retail shopping a much safer experience.  Be patient, follow the instructions on the terminal, and don’t forget your card in the EMV slot!


*Applies to retail swiped transactions.  E-commerce and mail order/phone order transactions are exempt.


Josh Dudman
Written by Josh Dudman

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