Is the rocky road to EMV retail adoption getting smoother?

CIO – There was plenty of confusion to go around in October 2015, with only a small percentage of retailers ready to roll when the deadline passed for them to become EMV-compliant by installing new EMV-capable credit card readers and acquiring certifications from various payment networks.

Now that over a year, and two holiday seasons, have passed by, the question is: Where does retail stand with EMV? The answer, says experts, is that it’s been a rocky road, but there have been improvements in adoption and an ongoing evolution in implementation.

The good news is, consumers are starting to adapt to the new normal — their first instinct now is to insert a chip, not swipe. In addition, Visa and Mastercard implemented new quick-chip technology last summer, to make the processing time faster for consumers.

“One of the biggest complaints off the bat was that EMV was too slow, taking 10-15 seconds,” says Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners. “Now the EMV transactions have really gone back to the same speed as what it used to be with swipe transaction — from the consumer point of view, it has sped up dramatically.”

Retailers, on the other hand, have struggled to get up to speed with EMV and have dealt with a variety of challenges, particularly due to vendor delays and the liability shift that has left them on the hook for chargebacks. “Those that weren’t ready really got thrown into panic mode,” Kramer says. “The amount of chargebacks, in terms of dollars and quantity, far exceeded anyone’s expectations.”
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