For retailers, EMV has been in the news with increasing frequency over the past year. However, recent studies indicated that only a small percentage of customers are familiar with what EMV entails and how the process will work.
Challenge #1: Training and educating store associates on EMV (what is it, how does it work, and why is it being implemented?).
Challenge #2: How do retailers educate and communicate the changes to their customers?
The primary change for customers occurs during the credit card tender process. Customers and store associates will no longer be swiping a credit card on a payment terminal or POS MSR. Instead, customers will be responsible for now inserting (or “dipping”) their cards into an EMV-capable payment terminal. This seemingly minor change cannot be overlooked or minimized as swiping has been the norm for so long and has become a subconscious behavior during checkout.
Insert vs. Swipe
Not only does the physical process change (insert versus swipe), but the timing of an EMV transaction is impacted. Compared to a traditional magnetic strip swipe of a credit card which may result in a sub second response, an EMV authorization and response will take considerably longer – approximately 5–10 seconds. This is due to behind the scenes authentication and validation of the new chip on the credit card.
Patience is Required
Additionally, if a person removes the card before the reading, transmission and authorization is complete, then the transaction will likely be declined. Retailers must be sure to communicate the impact of this new process and that “patience” is required. Even though this new technology takes longer (which is counterintuitive to most customers’ understanding of anything new), the added benefit of improved transaction security should be part of the associate and customer training.
Leaving Card in EMV Terminal
Another impact of this longer duration of leaving the card inserted in the EMV terminal, there is a high risk of the consumer leaving their card behind. This issue was a documented problem in Europe and other early EMV adopters during their EMV cutovers. Solutions exist to configure the payment terminal or POS to alert the associate and customer audibly, or to restrict the printing of the final receipt until the card is removed. To help minimize this issue, retailers should work with their technology partners to understand which solutions work best.
PIN vs. Signature
And if all of the insert and timing changes weren’t enough, there is the open question of Chip or PIN entry for a given EMV card. Many customers may not even be aware of their PIN for non-Debit cards, which will further slow down and complicate the checkout process. However, since many payment processors are not equipped with the technology to handle EMV chip-and-PIN credit transactions, it is not likely that customers will have to memorize PINs anytime soon. Therefore, most EMV cards will be initially configured for signature verification vs. the real-time PIN verification.
These changes all come with added security for both retailers and customers; however, as with all changes, special attention must be spent towards developing robust change management plans which include both associate training and end consumer education.
As always, I welcome your opinions on this topic. Please share your comments below.