Shell starts EMV fuel migration with 1,000 stations

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Because of its large U.S. network of about 14,000 fuel stations in the U.S., Royal Dutch Shell often sets the tone for industry movements in technology, including the EMV conversion, which faces an Oct. 1 liability shift.

Shell has said it will comply with that timeline, and the company has started by announcing on Tuesday that 1,000 of its retail sites now offer chip card acceptance.

The EMV liability shift for general retailers took hold in October of 2015. More than four years later chip cards are common, though not all retailers accept the cards and continue to take mag-stripe swipe transactions. Given the complexities of converting fuel pumps to EMV, the petro industry had four more years to convert.

For many U.S. fuel companies, the EMV conversion to avoid liability on fraudulent transactions has hung like a bad dream in terms of cost and time commitments, though many are seeing the potential to convert to multichannel setups as part of any move to address EMV liability.

Shell in late 2018 launched the Pay & Save mobile app to complement EMV chip card acceptance. The app helps users locate Shell fuel stations and choose a payment method through the company's Fuel Rewards loyalty program.

Shell did not indicate how many more stations would convert to chip card technology over the next seven months, but it did make a move nearly a year ago with an agreement with Cybera to establish a cloud-based structure for Shell's EMV network.

"It is now less than a year until the fuel dispenser counterfeit liability shift instituted by the card brands goes into effect," the company said in Tuesday's press release. "Shell is fully committed to providing its wholesalers with the information and resources they need to have their Shell-branded sites EMV hardware and software ready in advance of the liability shift date."

Shell is an early adopter. In 2009 it became one of the first companies to issue a decoupled debit card, to buoy its loyalty program and run transactions through ACH rather than through issuing banks and card networks.

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