Processor First Data is working more closely with long-time partner Underwriters Laboratories to speed up the EMV testing process and certify the chip-card technology in the U.S. 

The UL Transaction Security Division will work with First Data merchants to establish EMV to prepare clients for the card brands' October 2015 deadline, after which most U.S. companies that cannot handle EMV cards face a shift in fraud liability.

"The U.S. is the most complicated market on the planet, and that's why we are last to implement EMV," said Steve Mathison, vice president of payment acceptance at Atlanta-based First Data. "UL is the right partner, at the right time with the right set of capabilities to marry up with what we are trying to accomplish in the U.S."

Northbrook, Ill.-based UL formed its transaction security division two years ago as part of a move toward digital product safety. Before that, UL had acquired some European companies experienced in EMV chip migrations and smart card development.

"First Data has had many dealings with UL around the world for a lot of different reasons for many years," Mathison said. "Because of the partnership with UL and the scale of what we are trying to accomplish, it just seemed a natural fit for us to extend the success on what we have had in this long relationship."

First Data provides payment processing in nearly 70 countries, and processes more than 2,000 financial transactions per second for an estimated $1.8 trillion a year.

"First Data is a fantastic partner for us, as our relationship is deep-rooted all the way up to the board level," said Sherif Samy, commercial director North America with UL Transaction Security.

First Data will tell its merchants that UL's involvement can trim a lot of time — and thus also trim cost — from the EMV certification process. First Data will also promote a "one-stop shop" for EMV testing and education, taking away a lot of the complications merchants face with "multiple players, multiple brands and multiple technologies" dotting the EMV landscape, Mathison said.

UL's role in the process can be defined through its key contributions, Sherif added. "We are trying to provide expert knowledge, automation to simplify, harmonize and streamline the process for the market, and also provide scale."

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