Nearly a year after the October 2015 liability shift, a mere 17% to 37% of all US merchants have adopted EMV POS terminals.
When all is said and done, U.S. merchants themselves need motivation to invest resources in the costly and time-consuming EMV process. After all, PCI application only became prevalent in the U.S. after the crippling fraud attacks on Target and other large retailers. Merchants who are still sitting on the fence surrounding their brick-and-mortar stores may simply not realize the risk they run of falling victim to crippling fraudster attacks. Hopefully they’ll learn before their luck runs out.
Some experts attribute what they consider the slow migration pace to the unique requirements of the U.S. debit-card transaction system and the need to put new procedures in place. Others blame it on the “wait-and-see” attitude adopted by many merchants. And still others believe that operational backlogs for processors and terminal providers are responsible for the sluggish adoption rate.
But is EMV adoption in the U.S. really all that slow? Here’s an interesting fact: The UK began the process of promoting EMV in 2002 and only completed the full roll out in 2006 – a period of five years. Was it realistic to believe that the huge U.S. market could achieve full transition over such a short period of time?
Nevertheless, there are ways to accelerate EMV transition in the U.S.: For one, more widespread adoption of a variety of mobile wallets will inevitably drive the use of NFC POS terminals, which also serve the EMV payment process. The imminent arrival of Apple Pay on mobile websites may be the impetus needed to knock down psychological barriers and jumpstart the use of other alternative payment methods.
Some retailers have complained about the red tape involved in EMV certification procedures, which slows down the process. Currently, each acquirer must apply separately for validation of a terminal, even if that terminal has already been approved for another acquirer. The EMV adoption process could be accelerated if international payment schemes would allow the certification already granted to a terminal for one acquirer to be valid for other acquirers, eliminating the need to repeat the process again and again.
Vlad Branin is vice president of professional services at Zooz.