Are Slow EMV Transaction Times Frustrating your Customers and Increasing your Labor Costs?

With EMV in place, many retailers are saving more than $100,000 a month in chargebacks, and in some cases more than $1,000,000 a month, depending on their profile. However, based on the negative impact on transaction processing times, and customer service issues, many retailers may be second-guessing the methods and systems they used to implement EMV.

Competitors Statement2In almost all cases, the EMV process has lengthened POS transaction times and in some cases the checkout time has increased by more than 15 seconds, which seems like forever to a customer in a hurry. These excessive EMV transaction processing times are degrading the customer experience and increasing labor costs by forcing retailers to staff more registers to make checkout lines more tolerable. It’s a double negative!

Are you ready for the holidays?

Angry ShopperRetailers are very concerned about how the slow transaction processing will impact back-to-school and holiday shopping lines and customer satisfaction, not to mention the added labor costs necessary to have more lanes open.

The retailers that haven’t implemented EMV are receiving chargebacks often exceeding $100,000 a month and many of these retailers are scrambling to get their EMV solution implemented prior to this year’s peak holiday transaction volume. However, these retailers, being in scramble mode, are often making the same technical and process errors that the EMV early adopters made, resulting in the same long transaction times.

Mobile POS

Additionally, a significant number of retailers who have implemented EMV on their fixed registers are struggling to implement EMV on their mobile POS solutions. These retailers are often faced with a difficult decision – should they stop using mobile POS, which will reduce customer service and overall POS processing capacity or should they continue to use non-EMV compliant mobile POS devices and accept the chargeback liability on these transactions? The lack of mobile POS will have a minor impact on customer service during slow times; however, it will have a noticeable negative impact during back-to-school and other peak retail times.


While slow EMV transaction processing is a serious problem, many retailers, and vendors in the industries impacted by EMV, don’t have the expertise, resources or time to solve the problem.  This problem is complicated by the fact that the EMV industry continues to change with new technologies and the complications of contactless EMV.


The payment industry continues to change at a rapid pace, with many new options, configurations and emerging technologies. Expert help is needed to determine which “technologies” are mirages and which ones are real. These include announcements such as Visa’s “Quick EMV” or MasterCard’s “M/Chip Fast.”


With so many critical IT priorities, like further payment security projects (end-to-end encryption and tokenization), mobile capabilities, integrating channel silos, etc., retailers and many vendors don’t have the resources to commit to researching and solving the EMV transaction time problem.


The holidays are coming soon, especially back-to-school, and retailers don’t have the capacity to add this project to their already full plate of projects.

White clock with words Time is Money on its face

While this is a difficult problem to solve, the risks are too high to ignore. The increase in labor costs to staff more lanes to keep lines manageable is outrageous (one retailer estimated that one extra second per transaction costs an additional $600,000 a year in store payroll). Of even greater concern is the negative impact of customer frustration driving consumers out of the stores and into shopping online (stores lose upselling and spontaneous purchase opportunities). If your competitors solve this problem first, you may lose customers who prefer to shop at a brand that has faster checkouts.

To make matters worse, it is difficult to figure out the best approach and technology to improve EMV transaction speed. EMV processing times are not the same everywhere, as there are many factors that impact the process time:

  • Poor EMV integration implementation
  • EMV terminal technology
  • EMV transaction processes
  • Poor processes and POS messaging
  • Training for store associates
  • Training for customers

We Can Help

BRP offers an EMV/POS Benchmark Assessment Service that compares your EMV processing time to other retailers and leverages best practices to help optimize your EMV transaction flow. We understand the dynamics and nuances of EMV processing and have worked with leading retailers to improve the speed of POS and EMV transactions.

Saving of 1 million

Our methodology includes a thorough review of your current POS and payment terminal environment, including: technology, people and processes. Our process incorporates a time study analysis that benchmarks your environment to industry and retail segment averages (your competitors). This analysis looks at the total POS and EMV processing time – the time between when the last item is entered in the POS system, includes when the consumer inserts the chip card into the device, to the moment they receive approval and are ready to sign for their purchase in both fixed and mobile environments. Further analysis investigates many components to pinpoint the areas that are opportunities for improvement balanced against the effort to implement.

The resulting recommendations will include:

  • General review of the entire checkout process and ergonomics – What are you doing right and what could be done better?
  • Actionable steps to improve the speed of POS and EMV transaction processing
  • A review and recommendation on if, when, and how to implement emerging technology enhancements
  • Analysis of mobile payments and mobile POS to identify if it is right for your organization and if your mobile solution is aligned with your EMV strategy
  • Insights into what is coming next for EMV and other payment options so that you can plan and react accordingly
Contact us today for a free 60-minute consultation:

Tony Scardino, 617-273-8300,

Now is the time to fix this problem before back-to-school and holiday peak volumes make things worse!

As always, I appreciate your insights and opinions on this topic. Please share your comments below.


Senior Vice President & Practice Lead
Perry is a leader in retail information technology, with more than 20 years of extensive experience across several types of retailers, including department stores and specialty retailers. In addition to VP and leadership positions with retailers, he has held the CIO position with a technology company and was co-chairman of the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) board of directors. Throughout his career, he has managed selection and implementation projects within store systems, logistics, finance, HCM, e-commerce and merchandising.


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