As the deadline nears for U.S. EMV adoption, more processors are partnering up to help their clients speed through the certification process.

Payments processor Total System Services Inc. is working with PAX Technology to deliver a semi-integrated EMV certification process targeting merchants that are waiting to test their terminals for chip-card acceptance.

Full certification testing can take up to a year, considering the process for each card brand takes three to four months. But the liability shift deadline the card networks set is Oct. 1, less than half a year away.

Columbus, Ga.-based TSYS is offering its reseller partners and merchants the option to use a software development kit through PAX that integrates TSYS encryption and tokenization on the merchant terminal and essentially decouples the payment to move transaction data through a connected PAX terminal that codes it for EMV transmission to TSYS.

The entire certification process with the PAX technology is reduced to several weeks, said Bill Lodes, director of developer partnerships for TSYS' merchant services segment.

"For those who have not started EMV certification by now, there is no other option for them at this point if they want to meet the liability shift timeline," Lodes said. "Anybody who comes in now that wants to be EMV ready, our partners are pushing them toward the semi-integrated solution."

Earlier this year, Elavon developed a similar approach in converting its Simplify payment application to a pre-certified EMV app to take card data out of the scope of PCI data security rules and make the certification simpler for merchants.

Vantiv partnered with ICC Solutions a year ago to offer EMV testing tools.

"It is safe to say that it is a trend amongst the acquirer industry to accelerate EMV certification and it is certainly a good idea because that is the backlog that needs to be addressed," said Thad Peterson, senior analyst with Boston-based Aite Group.

Depending on each merchant's situation, the payment providers are delivering on the promise of completing the EMV certification process in a matter of weeks, Peterson said.

"There is anecdotal evidence that the [full certification] process is actually longer than the estimated three to four months per network," Peterson said. "If processors have the ability to truncate that, it is an accurate statement that they can get it done in weeks."

PAX is a global EMV player that recently began operations in the U.S. to help with the migration.

"There was a combination of coding and other work that had to be done between the two of us," Lodes said. That work made it easy for TSYS to turn to PAX when developing a faster certification process option for its vendors and merchants, Lodes added.

In a full EMV certification process, the point of sale terminal provider has to "open the hood" to all of the applications so that each card brand can perform more than 300 test cases for the various transaction types, Lodes added. "It is very labor-intensive and time consuming, not only from a resource standpoint, but also from a dollars standpoint," said Lodes, estimating that merchants spend "tens of thousands of dollars" on full certification and PCI compliance.

Using the TSYS/PAX offering, the connected PAX terminal provides the EMV certification for the merchant, while addressing PCI compliance by removing cardholder data from the merchant terminal, Lodes said.

"It's a huge shift [to faster certification] that we have seen with a lot of our partners over the past several months," Lodes added.

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