The general public is largely uninformed about what EMV is, why it is coming into the US and the benefits of adopting more secure payment technology.
Cashiers are the lynch pin in making sure the consumer has a smooth experience when processing an EMV transaction. Therefore, there needs to be a focus on training the cashier and being aware if the consumer’s card has an EMV chip. Even if the merchant is not yet accepting chip cards, the cashiers need to be able to explain to the consumer that the EMV terminal is not ready.
Unlike other countries that have adopted EMV, like Canada and the U.K., the U.S. payments industry and the U.S. government have not conducted large marketing campaigns geared toward EMV education and the American public. There has been more of a concerted effort surrounding the rollout of Apple Pay and Google Wallet, but not about the migration to chip cards.
Due to this dynamic, the consumer public is unaware of the complexities in the payment industry from liability to physical payment terminals. Because the consumer has always been protected by the issuer for counterfeit or lost or stolen credit card fraud, the consumer does not understand why the US is moving to a more secure payment method. Though U.S. consumers often see media coverage about major data breaches and payment fraud, there has not been much advertising and conversation about how and why EMV will reduce the risk of counterfeit fraud.
While banks have issued hundreds of thousands of chip cards, the typical credit card holder will open a credit card but fail to read the inserts about how to use their new chip card. The public has a tendency to view inserts from the banks as marketing pamphlets or fine print about their new card, rather than important security information.
Additionally, EMV is not yet turned on in the majority of US merchants. While Target and other top tier merchants have EMV live, due to the complexity in getting solutions certified and the costs associated with upgrades, EMV transactions are not currently happening in mass. Even though retailers have upgraded terminals and available EMV slots, if the EMV is not turned on with the processor, it will not accept the card when it is inserted into the slot but will continue to utilize the mag stripe for payment, thus undermining the chip’s security features.
The payment industry is very complex, and can even be difficult for those within the industry to fully understand. However, the more consumers are taught, the more they will understand and attempt to use their chip card when they see the available slot. Once consumers understand and opt in to upgraded technology, merchants will move more quickly to new POS terminals and technology, creating sales opportunities for resellers.
Beatta McInerney is business development manager of payments for ScanSource POS and Barcode.