Large merchants are EMV-ready, but they're less likely to support NFC-based mobile payments; the opposite is true for smaller merchants.

Among small businesses, 34% can now accept mobile payments like Apple Pay, up from 13% in April 2015, whereas only 27% currently have upgraded to accept EMV chip cards, according to a recent survey conducted by small-business lender CAN Capital Inc.

If present trends continue, that gap would widen over the next year.

As the payments industry nears the one-year anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2015 liability shift for card-present counterfeit card fraud, 70% of small businesses responding to CAN’s survey said they have no plans to upgrade payment terminals to EMV within the next 12 months. New York-based CAN conducted its survey July 12-18, 2016, culling results from 1,000 respondents.

"It’s concerning how many small businesses are leaving themselves open to paying for liabilities and losses from potential credit card fraud," said Daniel DeMeo, CAN’s CEO, in a press release.

But the raw numbers on merchant readiness don’t provide a complete picture on overall fraud risk, said Troy Bernard, director, strategic marketing and products at card manufacturer CPI Card Group.

"Where we’re really going to combat counterfeit card fraud is in the total number of EMV-ready merchant transactions, not merchant locations," Bernard said, noting that giants like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy and Kroger Co. who together account for the lion’s share of payments volume are all EMV-compliant.

Some small merchants feel less pressure to adopt EMV because their fraud risk is relatively low versus the cost of upgrading, said Bernard, adding: "If I’m a small merchant and I don’t see chargebacks or fraud coming in my direction now, I might just wait to do EMV, or combine it with my upgrade to mobile payments acceptance."

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