Is faster EMV optional? Worldpay says no

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One of the post-EMV migration complaints is the speed of the transactions. Consumers dip their cards into payment terminals and let them sit there for an amount of time that may vary from store to story, but always feels longer than the old school swipe.

Reducing that time has become a sort of second migration, as companies look to shave seconds off of the consumer's role in the payment. Merchant services provider Worldpay is taking its swing at the problem by aggressively adopting the "faster EMV" products from the card networks as its main chip card model, reducing a transaction time the company contends can take as long as 20 seconds for consumers to about three.

"The transaction still takes the full amount of time, but this changes the perception for the consumer, which helps with EMV adoption," said Ian Van Buskirk, vice president of product management for Worldpay U.S.

Worldpay is making the faster EMV options available as a standard on the terminals that it will ship going forward. It's also adjusting the software on existing terminals. The move is a subtle expansion from prior deployments of faster EMV technology, which treated faster EMV as an optional upgrade for a subset of merchants.

Worldpay has gotten feedback that the slower EMV times are a problem across the board, so as a result "Quick Chip" will become the primary payment option, Van Buskirk said.

EMV has faced lots of complaints during its deployment into the U.S., such as its expense to merchants and issuers and its tendency to shift fraud to digital channels.

The change for consumers has also been a sore spot. The new user experience quickly drew the attention of the card networks, which all made faster options available via software update. Visa introduced Quick Chip about a year ago, and Discover, Mastercard and American Express also introduced their own versions.

These alternative versions were slow to take off, partly because they came so close to the October 2015 EMV migration liability shift deadline in the U.S.

But as the country's EMV support matures, Worldpay hopes merchants will be interested in improving the experience rather than adjusting to it, so it's making one of the larger "faster EMV" deployments to date, with an addressable market of 400,000 merchants. And EMV speed is starting to become a marketing point, as Square recently announced it had cut 1.5 seconds from its EMV processing time.

The challenge with "faster EMV" is that it's not faster, according to Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group. "I'm not sure that abbreviating the time in the terminal when the transaction remains the same length is solving a significant problem," Peterson said.

It's possible that most of the disruption around EMV is transitional, and consumers are more concerned with the inconsistency between EMV and magstripe terminals, according to Peterson. "As the terminals become more consistently EMV, it's likely that the dissonance between the two behaviors will diminish," he said.

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