The Chip-Card Ninjas Weaning America Off Swiping

Bloomberg News – Getting the U.S. off magnetic stripes isn’t easy and could take years. There are long waitlists of merchants trying to get their terminals certified, and the hardware and software—as well as communication hand-offs to processors and banks—don’t always work perfectly together. Almost a year after the official switch to chip cards, only a third of U.S. merchant locations accept them, according to MasterCard Inc. An additional third are somewhere in the process of switching over, according to payment expert Crone Consulting LLC. Thousands of stores around the U.S. currently have their terminals’ chip-card slot taped up as they try to achieve certification.

For smaller merchants, it’s easier to outsource the process. That’s where Creditcall, and other companies like it, come in.

There are now dozens of such firms, part of a huge new consulting industry that has grown up around helping companies implement EMV. Boston Retail Partners, for example, sends teams of consultants to retailers’ headquarters to assist their sales operations and training departments. Companies, such as Accenture PLC, help banks get their customers and merchants to use chip cards. And others, such as Creditcall, are helping merchants’ technology vendors get hold of pre-certified gear to accept chip cards.

Altogether, consultants and various helpers are booking $2.6 billion a year from helping merchants get EMV up and running, according to Crone Consulting. At Boston Retail Partners alone, EMV-related business has been doubling or tripling annually for the last two years, Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead, said in an interview.

“It’s become a big business for a lot of firms. Because you really need expertise—because it’s very complicated—the rules are continuing to change, the vendors and banks are still figuring it out,” Kramer said. “It’s a full-time job, and merchants’ associates already have full-time jobs.”

Read full article: The Chip-Card Ninjas Weaning America Off Swiping

Boston Retail Partners Offers Solutions for POS and EMV Transaction Speed

Convenience Store Decisions – Boston Retail Partners is addressing retailers’ concerns about how EMV transaction processing times are impacting customer satisfaction. Despite the benefits that EMV presents to many retailers, the new transaction process has had a negative impact on transaction processing times, and many retailers are second-guessing the methods and systems that they have used to implement EMV.

EMV is saving many retailers $100,000 – $1,000,000 a month in chargebacks, but the EMV process has lengthened POS transaction times. In some cases, the new process has increased transaction times 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.

BRP’s EMV/POS Benchmark Assessment Service expands its existing POS assessment methodologies to include a comparison of your EMV processing time to other retailers and leverages best practices to help optimize your POS and EMV transaction flow. BRP understands the dynamics and nuances of EMV processing and has worked with leading retailers to improve the speed of POS and EMV transactions.

Read full article: Boston Retail Partners Offers Solutions for POS and EMV Transaction Speed

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!

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Life After EMV – No Rest for the Weary

EMV_Terminal2For many retailers, getting to EMV was a long and arduous task. Delays in certifications, long lead times for new payment terminals, and high competition for valuable software, payment terminal and banking resources meant 6 month projects often turned into 12 and 18 month projects. So if you are a retailer who has successfully implemented EMV, congratulations! But where do you go from here?

The first critical step will be to ensure that you are indeed no longer seeing any higher than usual chargebacks coming from the bank. If you are, then you need to investigate further to validate that your transaction messaging is correctly flagging transactions as being EMV and that the bank isn’t erroneously passing along any charges which should not be shifted to the merchant.

Finishing What you Started

The next step is to shore up additional security gaps from a store systems perspective. Many retailers who chose to focus their priority on EMV did so at the expense of implementing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) or tokenization.  Whereas EMV is critical for limiting the use of lost or stolen cards in your stores, it does nothing to protect the card information itself once it gets into your store and back-office systems. E2EE helps to ensure that the card data is encrypted immediately upon swipe and will remain locked down and protected until it is outside of your network at the gateway or processor.  And implementing a tokenization solution, which stores a non-sensitive token in lieu of the credit card number in your system, helps to ensure that there is no critical information to be obtained in a breach event. The combination of EMV, E2EE and tokenization is the best defense for securing your store environment.

Improving Online Payment Security

HackerAs retailers continue to secure their in-store retail systems, many fraudsters are turning their attention to online systems. An additional recommendation is to extend tokenization solutions to online and mobile systems to ensure payment security while still being able to support advances in cross-channel business processes through the use of an omni-token.

As a result, retailers who have e-commerce solutions need to ensure they are securing these systems as well. From validating the secure transport of card data to processors to the ongoing tweaking and configuration of the rules within an advanced fraud management system, there are additional steps which retailers can take to address the already-present rise in online fraud.

Monitoring EMV Issues and Trends

Finally, it will be important to monitor coming trends and shifts related to EMV.  The longer authentication timeframe is causing headaches for many speed-of-service focused retailers, and the card issuers are working to implement “Quick EMV” fixes to speed up the precious seconds which have been incrementally added to a credit card transaction using EMV chip technology. Even though these should not result in additional development or projects for retailers, it will be important to understand how these impact the checkout process before deciding to implement.  Additionally, there has been an ongoing debate around the initial implementation of chip-and-signature for EMV vs. the more secure chip-and-PIN implementation.  If the momentum continues to shift towards chip-and-PIN, there will be additional steps required to ensure a successful implementation.

EMV compliance is a tremendous step towards avoiding additional liability stemming from fraudulent transactions as well as reducing the ability for customers to use fraudulent cards in your stores. But payment security is an ongoing process, not just a project. And to keep up, following many of the steps above will continue to help secure your customer’s information and your payment processing.

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



More Chip-Card Headaches, This Time for Merchants

Wall Street Journal – For millions of merchants that haven’t yet met the credit-card industry’s deadline for accepting more secure plastic, the bill is coming due.

As of last October, retailers who didn’t make the transition to chip cards are on the hook for counterfeit transactions that used to be covered by card-issuing banks. The costs of the fraud, known in the industry as chargebacks, are starting to stack up.


Chargebacks among small and medium-size merchants rose 15% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, according to a recent survey by The Strawhecker Group, a payments consulting firm. The industry believes the volume of chargebacks has likely risen since then, because the fourth quarter included only a few weeks under the new rules and it often takes a while for the costs to flow through to merchants.


Financial institutions have been issuing the new cards to customers for more than a year, but just 22% of retailers are able to process them, according to a survey released last month by Boston Retail Partners. Another 53% of the merchants in the survey planned to install the systems within the next 12 months.

Read full article: More Chip-Card Headaches, This Time for Merchants

Merchants Without Chip Readers On The Hook For Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Fraudulent Purchases

International Business Times – Your new bank card with the fancy, more secure chip might just be sticking your favorite store with a nasty bill, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In the past, when purchases were made using counterfeit cards, the bank picked up the tab, leaving the merchant and cardholder protected from the wiles of ne’er-do-wells.

But since October, U.S. retailers have been the ones who have to cover the cost of fraudulent purchases, not banks. October was the deadline for all U.S. merchants to be able to process payments made by chip cards; the banks backing the cards no longer make merchants whole if the store can’t process chip card payments.

That’s led to tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue for small- and medium-sized stores.

Although the credit card industry’s deadline was six months ago, only 22 percent of merchants actually are processing payments using the chip, the Journal said, citing a report from consulting firm Boston Retail Partners. The other 78 percent’s reasons for not having pulled the chip trigger yet vary from seasonal worries (not wanting to disrupt the holiday shopping season), to the new payment terminals not working correctly, to not being able to have their payment systems certified.

Read Full Article: Merchants Without Chip Readers On The Hook For Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Fraudulent Purchases

How can retailers mitigate the risk of the rise in online fraud?

Last October, following the EMV liability shift BRP published a blog post outlining the increased security risk to card-not-present transactions and warning retailers of potential increased online fraud. Our warning was not without precedent, citing a publication by Trustev that reported increased fraud in Europe following the introduction of EMV there. In this blog post, we will follow-up on our October publication with an update on reported online fraud in 2015.

Online Fraud Doubled in 2015

HackerMultiple industry sources all show that, with a few exceptions, online fraud increased in 2015. Digital goods, luxury goods and clothing all saw significant increases in online fraud. Further, according to Forester and’s recent report, retailers lost an estimated 1.3% of revenue due to online fraud in 2015 –  double the rate of 2014. Fraud’s harm doesn’t stop with “bad” transactions, as up to 25% of transactions declined due to suspected fraud were actually legitimate transactions.

Interestingly, that same report showed that electronics and food/beverage saw a decrease in online fraud, 17% and 36% respectively. What do these contrasts mean for online fraud in general? Different retail verticals are at higher risk for fraud as their goods have higher after-market value. For instance, fraudsters may be taking digital goods (such as DVDs), where fraud is up 304%, and reselling the content. Further, while electronics saw a decrease in fraud and represented 4% of fraudulent transactions they represented 19% of fraudulent transaction dollars due to the high price of products. A deeper dive into the statistics offer greater insights and a fuller picture of the critical areas to address.

The Forester/PYMT.som report does not break out gift card sales from merchandise sales. However, our findings and client data make it very clear that one of the highest risk sales, both online and in-store, is gift cards. If retailers have not adjusted their fraud profiles to include gift card sales in their highest risk category, they should do so as soon as possible.

Hopefully, the pace of the upward trend of online fraud will begin to slow in 2016. However, it would be foolish to expect it to decrease. As EMV penetration increases, counterfeit cards have less and less value in brick and mortar stores, effectively increasingly their value in online transactions. Additionally, fraudsters have large amounts of stolen credit card inventory that they want to take advantage of before the cards expire or are replaced. For these reasons, online retailers need to expect 2015’s fraud rates to be the new normal and prepare accordingly. Retailers must utilize rules-based fraud detection tools allowing them to audit suspect transactions and authorize legitimate ones.

Recommendations to Mitigate Online Fraud

Differentiating between legitimate and illegitimate transactions can be difficult, but with robust tools and processes retailers can achieve high proficiency. The list of risk mitigation opportunities continues to be expanded and enhanced:

  • Customer Profiles – Profile your existing customers and leverage their existing data. This will allow you to understand which customers were legitimate in the past and identify common attributes.
  • Seasonal Adjustments – Season specific policies allow retailers to tailor their programs throughout the year. Fraudsters are very adept at flooding the market at peak times, when retailers’ processes are already overloaded, such as back to school, seasonal changes and holiday periods.
  • Impact of Accelerated Deliveries – Adapt your payment policies to support, or anticipate supporting, the growing trend of increased same-day and next-day deliveries.
  • Secondary Security Services – Expand your tools to include secondary services such as fraud guarantee services for higher risk transactions.
  • Budget for Financial Impact – Review and possibly update your internal organizational model to account for the increased financial impact that on line fraud is having on the overall corporate bottom line.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Adjustments – Retailers must monitor activity to identify trends and analyze what worked in the past and what didn’t. As a result of this continuous monitoring and hindsight, retailers should update and tweak their rules and parameters. By implementing a comprehensive fraud detection process can thwart fraudsters and meet their customers’ expectations.

With online fraud on the rise, retailers are making it a high priority. Unfortunately, retailers already have a full plate of payment security initiatives, especially those that haven’t implemented EMV yet.  Fraudsters are savvy and retailers need to stay one step ahead by implementing comprehensive security strategies.

For more tips on mitigating payment security risk, check out this white paper:

Beyond EMV: Best Practices for Payment Security

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VIDEO: Tokenization and Encryption are Key Components of Payment Security

According to the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, only 22% of retailers support EMV transactions. Why has the adoption of EMV been so slow? For payment security, many retailers have focused their attention on tokenization and encryption to help prevent payment card breaches, which can cost a retailer far more than the chargebacks as a result of not deploying EMV.

Watch this video blog post to hear Perry Kramer, Vice President and Practice Lead, Boston Retail Partners, share his thoughts on tokenization and encryption and why retailers are making this a higher priority than EMV.

Tokenization and Encryption are Key Components of Payment Security

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

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Only 22 percent of retailers support EMV

The Paypers – A Boston Retail Partners survey has revealed that 22% of retailers support EMV, with another 53% planning to do so within the next 12 months.

The survey’s results also show that 16% of respondents say they have no plans ever to support EMV.

Ryan Grogman, Boston Retail Partners vice president, said the problem is that POS systems in the U.S. are relatively complex, making the EMV upgrade process more challenging than it might otherwise be. He cited long lead times for new payment terminals and certification, a limited set of payment switch development resources and payment provider support resources, and a scarcity of POS developers as factors contributing to a big backlog in EMV implementations.

EMV is not a panacea for payment fraud, according to Grogman, which notes that Trustev has predicted that online fraud will increase by 106% over the next three years in response to the shift to EMV. Online retail fraud surged by 100% in Canada and Australia, and by 89% in the UK, after those countries switched to EMV.

Read full article: Only 22 percent of retailers support EMV

How Is EMV Transition Going?

eSecurity Planet – Several months after the October 2015 deadline for card issuers and merchants in the U.S. to shift to EMV (chip-based) credit and debit cards, a recent Boston Retail Partners survey found that just 22 percent of retailers currently support EMV, with another 53 percent planning to do so within the next 12 months. Sixteen percent say they have no plans ever to support EMV.

Separately, a recent CardHub survey found that approximately 42 percent of larger U.S. retailers haven’t updated the point-of-sale (POS) terminals in any of their stores, and 24 percent have updated fewer than 50 percent of their terminals to accept EMV cards.

Why So Slow on EMV?
One problem, Boston Retail Partners vice president Ryan Grogman said, is that point-of-sale systems in the U.S. are relatively complex, making the EMV upgrade process more challenging than it might otherwise be.

“Support for EMV can often mean not just an upgrade of these payment terminals to support the new insert/dip process, but also changes to the POS application, changes to payment gateways and potentially changes at the credit switches,” he said.

He cited long lead times for new payment terminals and certification, a limited set of payment switch development resources and payment provider support resources, and a scarcity of POS developers as factors contributing to a big backlog in EMV implementations.

Read Full Article: How Is EMV Transition Going?