The EMV liability shift is a little over a year away, yet many merchants are unprepared for chip card acceptance. Recent data breaches have increased consumer awareness of card security issues.

And while consumers may not understand the technology, when they hear about EMV chip cards, they consider them very important in helping to protect against fraud. Even if a merchant doesn’t perceive a significant security risk with his or her own payment acceptance, shoppers are learning about chip cards and the increased security that comes with them.

In the next couple years, most cardholders will be receiving chip cards from their issuers, and they will expect to be able to use them with the same ease that they use their current magnetic stripe cards today. It will take time, but chip card acceptance will eventually become an expected and normal part of doing business. Within a few years, chip cards will no longer be mysterious to consumers or merchants.

But we cannot wait a few years to help merchants move seamlessly to chip card acceptance. We have to provide solutions now.

Future proofing merchants isn’t just about the shift to EMV. This is a very dynamic period of change in the payments industry. The pace of innovation and experimentation is breathtaking—NFC, wallets, virtual currencies, QR codes, host card emulation. It is difficult to anticipate which technologies will catch on, which will fall by the wayside, and what innovations will emerge. There are other emerging security features to address, including tokenization and P2P encryption. The list goes on. We can’t foresee exactly what payments will look like in a few years, but we can prepare merchants by providing them with equipment that can be easily modified to accommodate future requirements.

What we need are future proof, agile, EMV-ready solutions that can dynamically adapt as the industry evolves. Merchant acquirers have long faced a significant problem with keeping the software on their merchants’ terminals current. Updating, distributing and supporting distinct applications for multiple terminal lines has been very costly, time-consuming, cumbersome and dreaded by all parties involved. This often results in terminals not getting updated for many years, causing them to be out of compliance and generally behind the times.

In today’s fast-paced payments world, we can no longer afford the “fire and forget” model of terminal management, where we send a terminal to a merchant and largely forget about it unless the merchant proactively calls for support. We need to enable providers to future proof their merchant terminals quickly and easily for the forthcoming transitions, including chip cards. We believe approaches should include a thin-client application that runs on multiple terminal families simultaneously. They should include an integrated terminal management system that enables merchant acquirers to update a merchant’s terminal automatically, with no disruption to daily business practices. Because the application behaves the same way on all terminal families, ISOs can standardize their merchant documentation, marketing collateral and help desk support, significantly decreasing operational costs.

There is no disputing that the U.S. has been slow to adopt EMV—and the landscape is still changing as the industry comes to grip with this massive transition. But EMV is inevitable, and we need to be ready and able to help all merchants make the transition to chip card acceptance. Innovation is also inevitable and will continue to drive changes in payments. We need to provide products and services that can adapt as the market evolves.

Bill Robertson is director of core solutions at Apriva.