Many card issuers think they only have two options when it comes to EMV—keep all issuance in house or outsource.

But there is a third option that surprises many issuers—Software as a Service (SaaS) for EMV lifecycle management.

We all know the deadline for implementing EMV technology is fast approaching. Issuers continue to face difficult economic conditions and unrelenting government regulation.  Revenue streams from payment products have continued to erode; at the same time issuers have been asked to migrate to EMV technology—all of which is resulting in suppressed margins. With the recent data breaches, congressional hearings and media hype, the adoption of EMV technology looks like it will accelerate.

This means that issuers will be deploying EMV for debit cards in the near future, but how each of them does so will be dependent upon their needs. Each option has its own infrastructure implications and unique value proposition. Issuers must understand that advances in technology have put US issuers in a favorable position in comparison to their international brethren who have already implemented EMV. From our experience, issuers like the idea of having full control of an in-house solution while being intrigued by the low upfront costs of an outsourced solution, without realizing the full long-term costs.

An EMV solution needs to be flexible, rich in business functionality and deliver peace of mind. A hosted or SaaS offering enables the full control benefits of an in-house deployment with the lower costs associated with outsourcing. Whereas an outsourced offering comes back-loaded with fees for changes and additions, a SaaS-based EMV data preparation and lifecycle management solution incorporates many of these fees into a transparently priced offering.

These outsourcer costs can include a "per activity” fee, such as a fee to deliver a script to a card/application. SaaS EMV technology would offer many of these value-added services as part of the basic offering, all while keeping the in-house control that issuers crave.

So the question isn’t “will banks adopt SaaS technologies?”, but rather “will they adopt SaaS technologies to get the full benefit of EMV?”

Paul McMeekin is manager of business intelligence and market research at ACI Worldwide.