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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 26, 2012 • Issue 12:11:02

EMV: Game on!

By Dale S. Laszig
Castles Technology Co. Ltd.

Despite diverse opinions on Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) in the United States, our industry is revealing broad consensus on these facts: our country represents the final frontier for EMV implementation, and its time is drawing near.

This means "game on" for merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who will be the first line of defense during all phases of the integration. But let's not wait for new machines to be deployed before we start to make sense of this global standard or try to explain it to our merchants.

Prepared MLSs can sell EMV

Winning at this - or just staying in the game - requires a new mindset that will separate you from the pack and give you the requisite tools to explain EMV effectively to merchants, help them make informed decisions and increase your sales. Here are some easy steps to streamline the process:

    1. Create specialized training programs. Before shopping around for EMV training, have a clear idea of what you want to learn and who will attend. Most programs are tailored for a specific audience. Programmers appreciate hands-on exercises and tools that help them learn how to write and debug software. Help-desk professionals want a clear understanding of transaction flow, so they can take calls from merchants who are operating equipment. Sales professionals need to understand the intelligence shift that makes EMV cards smarter than their mag stripe counterparts, as well as the corresponding liability shift that places additional responsibility on merchants. Effective training for a diverse audience might begin with an all-inclusive introduction that creates a conceptual framework and takes everyone through key points, followed by breakout sessions that deal with specialized information and exercises.

    2. Find an established, credible trainer. A broad network of associations and initiatives offers EMV guidance, educational and diagnostic tools, programs, and industry certifications. This group includes the Smart Card Alliance, ACT Canada, Collis, and the extended international family of B2 Payment Solutions resellers. Canadian company B2 is the exclusive North American reseller for Collis and has played a leading role in EMV and contactless migrations in Canada.

    Collis, which was recently acquired by Underwriters Laboratories, is a global authority on electronic transaction security; it serves a variety of financial institutions, card payment schemes, mobile network operators and governments worldwide. Collis, which has been integrated into UL's Transaction Security service, created a rich portfolio of products and services, including test tools, testing and certification services, and training. The merger positions UL as a global provider of end-to-end transaction security, interoperability, conformance evaluation and advisory services for the mobile payments, e-ticketing and identity management industries.

    Through its reseller partners, B2 is now using its experience to best advantage when providing training, services, certifications and Collis test tools to North American issuers, acquirers, processors and merchants. TranSEND Integrated Technologies, a B2 reseller, offers a full suite of B2 training, services, Collis test tools, and support services to U.S. acquirers, processors, ISO and super-ISO organizations. TranSEND also supplies EMV POS applications and associated tools to support EMV implementation and certification.

    3. Encourage attendees to have an open mind. The best way to prepare for EMV training is to leave your preconceptions at the door, whether you're a newcomer or an experienced payments industry professional. Forget what you've heard over the years. Even the acronym EMV has evolved. Europay was acquired by MasterCard Worldwide. More recently, American Express Co. and JCB International Co. Ltd. joined the coalition, which is still known as EMVCo.

    Itai Sela, B2 Vice President and Principal Consultant, emphasized the value of beginning EMV and contactless expert training without prior knowledge. Not knowing much about the subject can be a benefit "because now you have the opportunity to learn about EMV in an organized manner," Sela noted.

    The training provided by B2 lasts three days and focuses on core essentials customized for the U.S. market, including:

    • The EMV ecosystem
    • Contact and contactless specifications
    • EMV functional transaction flow
    • Contactless functional transaction flow
    • Cryptography and key management
    • Technical EMV and contactless transaction flows

    These essential topics represent a radical departure from life as we knew it in the mag-stripe world. We need to overhaul our understanding of payment processing. When it comes to merchant implementation of EMV in the United States, Sela used the analogy of an extreme home makeover. "This isn't a time to renovate your house," he said. "This is a time to knock [it] down and rebuild from the ground up."

    4. Employ best practices. The benefits of learning from our Canadian counterparts cannot be overestimated, according to Amit Chhabra, President of TranSEND. "It's important to note that the U.S. EMV migration will be different and that we'll encounter our own challenges," Chhabra said. "Card schemes are different in the U.S. due to the sheer scale of the electronic payments industry and the deeply ingrained paradigm created by our legacy systems and infrastructure."

    However, regardless of these differences from regions of the world where EMV has already been implemented, the first step is educating ourselves and understanding the technology. We must start by understanding the pros and cons from an initial implementation perspective and an ongoing operational perspective, according to Chhabra.

    "While there will be challenges, we can learn to anticipate, counter and overcome these hurdles through top-down EMV education within each ISO and merchant-acquiring organization," he said. This includes training at the executive level, technical and operational training, and support and help desk training. Also, ongoing training will be required to support industry updates and newly hired personnel.

    "Unlike other technologies, EMV human resources within the U.S. are very limited," Chhabra stated. And American acquiring organizations will need to leverage resources from abroad, while developing resources domestically.

The MLS is still quarterback

As late adopters, we can learn from our Canadian neighbors who have weathered EMV migration. They can provide U.S. acquirers, processors and ISOs plenty of case histories and lessons learned to help us navigate domestic implementation.

Throughout all phases of EMV education, training and deployment, MLSs will continue to offer guidance and leadership to merchants to help them migrate to smarter, more secure technologies. end of article

Dale S. Laszig is Senior Vice President of Sales in the United States for Castles Technology Co. Ltd., a manufacturer and global provider of smart card, contactless and POS solutions. She can be reached at 973-930-0331 or dale_laszig@castech.com.tw.

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