Independent sales organizations and sales agents will play a key role in teaching America how to use EMV cards, an executive at a payment-terminal provider says.

After all, change doesn’t always come easily in the land that failed to convert to the metric system.

First, ISOs and agents will learn about EMV’s quirks from processors, Thierry Denis, Ingenico president for North America, tells PaymentsSource. Next, ISOs and agents will pass those EMV tips along to merchants. Merchants, in turn, will brief the public, he notes.

What sort of information will the industry pass along? From observing the switch to smart cards in Canada, Denis knows that consumers have difficulty adjusting to inserting a card in a reader, as required for EMV, after growing up swiping magnetic stripe cards.

The card stays in the EMV reader for a few seconds so the chip in the card and the chip in the reader can authenticate each other, he says. While those seconds tick by, shoppers often become distracted and forget to retrieve their cards.

One Canadian merchant went so far as to advise facetiously that retailers put a box near the point of sale as a depository for the forgotten cards, Denis says.

Another adjustment is required for the slightly longer time needed for an EMV transaction with its ritual of entering a PIN or jotting a signature, he says, noting that training cashiers to soothe patrons can help.

While the Canadian experience sheds some light on what Americans can expect, differences also come into play, Denis says. Canadians have been heavy users of PIN-debit cards and thus needed no time to form the habit of entering a string of numbers into a terminal.

Despite the behavioral changes the nation must make to switch to EMV, Denis foresees a gradual transition of 12 month to 18 months once the process gets under way.

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