AJB Software Design Inc. has helped J. Crew, an American specialty retailer, integrate EMV-chip card acceptance into its stores in Canada. And with the EMV migration deadline approaching in the U.S., the middleware provider expects more business.

"Pretty much 98% or 99% of the [Canadian] population has chip-cards in their possession and use them frequently," says Bohdan Myroniw, director of business development at AJB. "AJB drives payment processing for 20 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. and many retailers have stores in Canada."

AJB has implemented chip and PIN payment options through its Flexible Integrated Payments (FIPay) software. AJB has "off-the-shelf" packages as well as customized integration for EMV acceptance. AJB charges a software fee and a services fee for the months the company must help the merchant with certification.

Many countries have already migrated to EMV to address fraud levels at the point of sale. Canada has been seen as a testing ground for many U.S. companies because of the country's similarities. The card networks set a deadline for most U.S. merchants to accept EMV cards by October 2015.

"Today we have a number of U.S. processors coming on stream…such as First Data, Vantiv and Heartland," Myroniw says. AJB is trying to "entice many merchants to get a project started sooner than later. We can help make the EMV process easy but [merchants] need to get started and not wait till the last second."

In general, certification of new payment options takes four to six weeks, but this process will likely take longer with EMV implementation, and none of the largest merchants in the U.S. are set up for EMV right now, Myroniw says.

AJB discusses the project with the merchant and its financial institution to decide what changes will be required at the point of sale. "Changes are usually minimal…since we leverage the existing [application programming interfaces] with the point of sale vendors that have adopted AJB solutions," says Myroniw.

The big question for merchants is the display size of the PIN entry device, Myroniw says. Some merchants choose the larger screens so they can present marketing messages to consumers at the point of sale, he says.  In the example of J. Crew, the retailer chose a larger-screened option, the VeriFone MX870.

"Times are changing; EMV is an opportunity [for merchants] to look at what else they can do at the point of sale to drive new sales," Myroniw says.

AJB began working with PayPal in early 2012 to bring the eBay subsidiary's online payment system to the physical point of sale.  In November 2012, AJB helped Guitar Center ingrate PayPal at the point of sale.

And in early 2013, AJB began participating in Visa Inc.'s POS Solutions Program (VPSP), which the middleware provider says could allow it to link V.me, Visa's digital wallet, to the physical point of sale.

AJB also works with several retailers in Canada, including Hughes Petroleum Ltd., which implemented AJB's FIPay Mobile application to allow motorists to pay for gas without leaving their vehicles. 

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