Even with the card networks' U.S. EMV migration deadline half a year away, basic knowledge of EMV technology is still poor. Fime is addressing this concern by offering its expertise to American issuers such as credit unions and community banks, which may need additional knowledge but are reluctant to outsource their entire EMV project.
It's not unusual for knowledge gaps to exist in EMV, even after years of preparation toward this year's October 1 deadline. Many consumers never heard of EMV, and a similar problem exists on the merchant side.
In the case of project management, it's not a total lack of knowledge, but more a lack of opportunity for U.S. residents to build their own expertise in EMV ahead of the deadline, said Xavier Giandominici, director of Fime America, which is offering a consultation service for issuers. Fime America is a San Jose-based unit of Fime, which is based in Antony, France.
"There is really not a school to learn how to be a project manager for EMV," Giandominici said. "We fill the gap between standard project management and the EMV migration."
Even if the U.S. doesn't have its own EMV "school," other organizations are also rushing to fill the knowledge gap. Some offer independent classes on EMV project management, and the Smart Card Alliance also offers kits to guide the migration. Among credit union service organizations, COOP Financial has long offered instructional services for the EMV migration.
The Project Management Institute, the organization that awards certifications and provides project management training in different industries, did not respond to requests for comment.
Fime has signed up clients for its new service, Giandominici said, but it cannot name them.
The EMV migration, while challenging, is less complex than other migrations banks have faced in recent history, said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst with Aite Group.
"Y2K and Check 21 had impact across a broader spectrum of issues," Peterson said, adding EMV mostly affects card-issuing functions. "That's not to say [EMV] is easy, it's just that it's contained."
As the EMV migration nears the card network-imposed liability shift in October, companies are starting to develop more services tied to the migration. While Fime targets expertise, Gemalto, for example, is pursuing environmentally-sound card disposal.
Fime's $10,000 "kit" includes an initial environmental analysis, interviews with an EMV issuance expert from Fime, and consultation on what the institution needs to support to issue EMV cards. Fime then builds this data into a profile for the institution. Fime also assists during meetings with issuer service providers and help interpret technical information. Fime spends two days on site and advises issuers on how the migration will affect business operations and what should be done to manage that impact.
II's common for banks to employ or contract with project managers, particularly in technology, a profession in which formal project management training and testing are common. The Project Management Professional is one of the higher paying certifications available for IT professionals, ahead of certifications for basic enterprise IT tasks such as virtualization, switching and cloud computing.