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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 26, 2015 • Issue 15:10:02

The liability shift is here - now what?

By Michael Gavin

As of Oct. 1, 2015, the liability shift is now in effect, yet it's only the beginning of EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) in the United States. Our industry has been focused on EMV for years, and now that we have passed the Oct. 1 deadline, it doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels. The liability shift truly is just the start, because there's still a lot of work to be done to get all affected parties up to speed with EMV.

To help with this endeavor, here is a look at what payment professionals, merchants and consumers should be aware of now that the liability shift has been enacted.

Merchants unprepared for EMV

Prior to the liability shift, many merchants weren't prepared, and to this day, are not accepting payments on EMV-compliant equipment. According to a recent survey by Retail Dive, 42 percent of retailers said they would not make the deadline or weren't aware of plans to make the switch.

Some small businesses are under the impression that the liability shift only applies to large businesses; however, that's a common EMV myth. The liability shift affects all businesses, and they're now liable if a fraudulent transaction were to occur if they process a chip card on equipment that is not EMV compliant.

EMV brings a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) in the merchant services industry. Giving merchants a legitimate reason to upgrade their payment devices makes it an easy sell. Plus, the majority of new EMV-capable equipment includes near field communication (NFC) technology so merchants can accept mobile payments, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.

It is well worth it for merchants to upgrade to be able to accept the latest payment types while also protecting their businesses and customers. Many agents and ISOs have already capitalized on the tremendous opportunity EMV brings and are expanding their merchant portfolios with this major industry change. If you haven't done so yet, leverage EMV and grow your business.

The rationale for EMV

When discussing the liability shift with existing and potential customers, it's important to explain why the United States finally moved to chip cards. EMV was implemented to enhance security and minimize fraud and data breaches. A unique token is created with every chip card transaction, making it a more secure payment method and very difficult for criminals to duplicate. EMV has proven itself in every other developed country, and the United States can continue to learn what to expect from them.

For example, the United Kingdom recently raised the minimum amount of contactless credit card payments from £20 to £30 without entering a PIN or signature. With the United States just now implementing EMV and with NFC payments on the rise, the United States may eventually do the same after contactless payments become more common.

Once merchants upgrade, it's important for them to educate their employees, especially cashiers, on what EMV is and to ensure chip cards are being used when presented. Employees will also need to be able to help guide customers through the new process at checkout.

EMV for consumers - dipping versus swiping cards

With many merchants uninformed of EMV, it's clear that even more consumers are unaware of the recent transition. Many consumers with chip cards in their wallets don't understand why they received a new credit card in the mail to be activated. According to Forbes, a recent study by ACI Worldwide found that 59 percent of consumers haven't received chip-enabled cards yet, and 67 percent haven't received information from their credit card issuers or banks informing them of what EMV and chip cards mean. This clearly illustrates that there is still a lot of work to do to educate consumers.

EMV brings a major change for consumers in the way they pay in-person at checkouts. Instead of the traditional swipe, consumers will be prompted to insert their card and leave it while the payment processes. If a consumer attempts to swipe a credit card and it's an EMV-enabled device, the device will automatically prompt them to insert their card, also known as "dipping," into the slot. As you may imagine, this changes everyday behavior, so it will take time for consumers to adapt. Consumers want speedy checkouts, and chip cards are a longer process, but they provide more security and protection.

With the holiday season only a few weeks away, shoppers can expect checkout times to take longer than usual due to the new EMV process in place. However, the longer checkout times can be beneficial for businesses, allowing employees more time to speak with consumers about loyalty programs, upcoming sales and so forth.

Although there's still a lot of work to be done, we'll eventually see the positive impact EMV can have. Payment professionals should work to educate merchants and merchants need to educate employees to make sure chip cards are used when available. It'll take a combined effort of all parties to inform consumers of the EMV transition and that it means more secure technology to protect their card data. EMV has been an extensive and costly effort, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

end of article

As Cayan's Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales efforts including organizational structure, sales forecasts and overall strategies. He also oversees all sales activities within the company's agent channel, a growing network of more than 400 independent representatives throughout the United States. Michael has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. An individual who has made numerous key contributions, Michael was the architect behind the design and development of the agent channel. Michael is a graduate of Merrimack College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Contact him at mgavin@cayan.com.

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