With the card issuer mandate for EMV-ready merchants around the corner, are you prepared?

Globally, the U.S. is one of the last markets to implement this technology so one would think adoption of EMV is inevitable for consumers and merchants alike. Yet, with the mandate upon us, and EMV-ready equipment in place, consumers are still using “old” cards. Which begs the question: Do we need more education to merchants and awareness to consumers in the months leading up to the mandate?

Part of the education process begins with merchants. In order to successfully get buy-in from consumers, we need to look at how we can help merchants completely understand EMV technology.

So, my advice to them is always this: Get ahead of the game and become EMV-compliant now. Which, while easier said than done, is not entirely impossible.

Processors have the technology to implement EMV, the responsibility of purchasing new equipment will fall on the merchant. As of October 1, 2015, the business with the highest technology wins the loss of liability.

The terminal will pay for itself from the reduction in fraud, right?

It’s not that cut-and-dry. The answer depends on how fast issuers are going to replace their old cards with chip cards. At the current rate, we could still be talking about this in 2035.

The other part lies with the customers–and educating them about EMV.

This year, I hosted a Super Bowl party with about 50 or so people in attendance. We were talking about all the data breaches that occurred in 2014. The majority of us had been affected.  

However, I was surprised to learn that when I asked how many of them had a chip card. One one did. Of all the card issuers in the world, it was a Sam’s Club Mastercard. To top it off, none of our cards that were replaced because they were breached were replaced with a chip card. Even though I’m from Michigan, I don’t think the outcome would’ve been different if this was a Super Bowl party in Silicon Valley or New York.

It’s a small sampling of a large problem: Without the proper awareness, major card issuers, consumers, and merchants may all be left scrambling to update their systems and distribute compliant cards to customers up until midnight on September 30, 2015.

Yet, I come back to merchants–what can we do to make sure they’re prepared when the EMV mandate goes into effect?

Every day, merchants ask me about what the mandate is and what it means for them. What does it mean for their business? Where are the EMV cards? Do consumers even know what to do at POS once they have an EMV card?

These are too many questions; in fact with less than eight months until the mandate, there are way more questions than answers. We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.

It’s going to be on us, as processors, to help our merchants get there, too.

Tami Cohorst is Vice President of Abtek.