The tom-toms are beating louder for action among issuers, merchants and processors in the U.S. migration to EMV smart card technology.

The Smart Card Alliance on July 9 unveiled a website designed to help educate U.S. payment-industry players about best practices, updates and tactics for switching to chip from magnetic stripe cards over the next few years.

The timing is significant because it is nearing the moment to begin planning for the shift to EMV if the U.S. payment industry is to meet key deadlines the card brands established, Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the alliance, said in an interview.

"We pulled together resources and information that will be easily accessible for all participants to get all the latest information on EMV," Vanderhoof says.

The site is separated into four sections with information for issuers, merchants, acquirers, and processors and consumers.

There is no certainty the U.S. will meet the card brands’ deadlines.

Visa last August established October 2015 as the date when liability for counterfeit card fraud will shift to the party unable to process an EMV card transaction. Some analysts view the quick deadline as aggressive.

MasterCard Worldwide set April 19, 2013, as the deadline to shift liability to the ATM owner for any fraudulent Maestro transactions at an ATM unable to accept EMV cards.

A troubling survey of ATM owners and operators released this month found the majority are not fully aware of EMV requirements, lack adoption plans and do not believe the cost for upgrading to EMV is worth the benefits.

That is not too surprising, Vanderhoof says.

"In other markets that moved to EMV, including Europe and Latin America, ATM networks have been one of the more challenging areas to upgrade because a large percentage of independent owners and operators of machines do not see an immediate return on the investment they are being asked to make to replace software and hardware," he says.

Moreover, key industry groups have a long way to go in finding ways to collaborate to resolve certain sticking points in the U.S. shift to EMV, Vanderhoof suggests.

MasterCard in May issued a call for industrywide collaboration on EMV migration among all U.S. payment-industry players.

One such hurdle U.S. PIN-debit networks identified earlier this year is the need to establish a common path for merchants, processors and issuers to support their payment channels within the EMV standard.

The Secure Remote Payment Council in April formed a working group among PIN-debit networks to make sure they are not cut out of the process when the industry adopts EMV.

"There is a definite need for industry working groups to get together to resolve certain issues, and I believe that will happen," Vanderhoof says, offering no specifics on any moves among card-network brands or other organizations to form such groups.

Visa Inc. supports the Smart Card Alliance's new EMV website, as well as other industry efforts to collaborate on a smooth transition to EMV, a Visa spokesperson said via e-mail. Visa separately is providing technical guidance to industry players through its own blog, the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for American Express Co. said the company has been an "early adopter" of EMV worldwide and fully supports all efforts to drive adoption and interoperability of chip card technology worldwide. 

Representatives from MasterCard and Discover Financial Services previously have expressed support for industrywide collaboration but offered no fresh news on such initiatives.

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