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Merchants and Banks Need to Lead on EMV Education

EMV will require new payment processes that, while seemingly small to those instituting the change, require a shift in behavior that could feel monumental to consumers. 

While we won’t see a government-funded advertising campaign in the U.S. in support of the EMV rollout, merchants and banks can drive adoption and mitigate the impact by communicating with employees and customers now about the change. Such efforts should include:

Timing – when the change will occur

Card Design – what changes cardholders should expect with CHIP-enabled cards

Behavior – how the purchase process will change, specifically what consumers will do differently at the point of sale with the new cards and terminals

Security – why the change is taking place: to protect customers’ personal financial information and identity 

When EMV rolls out this fall in the U.S., consumers will insert their cards into payment terminals that will hold on to new chip-enabled cards until the transaction is finished processing. Some retailers may also require consumers to enter their PIN to complete the transaction depending on whether or not the issuing bank of the card has made PIN a requirement (it appears most are initially requiring chip and signature vs. chip and PIN). 

EMV has seen success in other global markets where it has been implemented. The burden is on all of us to make sure that the story is repeated in the U.S., and that success starts with a sustained, collective effort to educate consumers about what’s coming. 

EMV rollout and adoption history in the U.K. proves that for both cashiers and customers across the country, the quality of the rollout will hinge on how well merchants train their staffs to guide consumers through the process. Training consumers to alter ingrained purchasing habits will take time and a sustained, combined effort from merchants, banks and the industry at large—to  educate consumers about the difference between chip and magnetic stripe cards, what that difference means, and how to use the new cards.

The U.K. rollout saw a massive, government-funded advertising campaign that informed everyone of when the EMV switch would occur and how it would impact them. Banks pitched in by making their customers aware of the coming card changes with consistent messaging online, in billing inserts, on card statements and other client communication avenues. 

Change is inconvenient and sometimes painful. Merchants are well-positioned to alleviate consumer discomfort with EMV by anticipating customers’ frustration and training cashiers and other staff thoroughly on new processes and the benefits of EMV. Likewise, banks can encourage EMV adoption by consistently communicating with their customers about the improved security and card fraud prevention that will accompany the new payment process. Communication methods might include providing awareness information on their websites or in branches and adding informative “you should know” information to account statements, bills, and e-mail correspondence.  

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