GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing
View Archives

View flipbook of this issue

Care to Share?

Table of Contents

Lead Story

New payment products: Go big or fail fast

Dale S. Laszig


Industry Update

NAC case against Visa, Mastercard going forward

Contactless, cardless cash gains U.K. adoption

It's always Cyber Monday for security pros

NFC tag certification program targets IoT


Sales compensation among U.S. merchant acquirers

Mobile payment awareness inches forward


The travails of chip and debit cards

Patti Murphy
ProScribes Inc.

What is Money20/20 Part Two

Brandes Elitch
CrossCheck Inc.

What a 'quarter century' industry veteran has learned about the high-risk merchant niche

Steve Duniec
Payment Advisors LLC


Street SmartsSM:
More rebranding options for MLSs

John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC

Is your merchant agreement out of date?

Eugene Rome
Rome & Associates

Manners matter in email

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Company Profile

CSR Professional Services Inc

New Products

Residual-based loans, financing solutions for ISOs

Residual-based loans
Super G Funding LLC

Secure, in-person proximity payments

Mobeewave Inc.


It's ABP now, not ABC


Letter from the editors

Readers Speak

Resource Guide


A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 12, 2016  •  Issue 16:12:01

previous next

Insider's report on payments:
The travails of chip and debit cards

By Patti Murphy

Fourteen months into life under EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), and the security protocol is far from universal at merchant checkouts, to the frustration of many. As a consumer, I'm frustrated. Some merchants I frequent have EMV readers installed, but still want me to swipe my card. Then there is the confusing messaging at EMV-enabled terminals. One especially perplexing message asks the cardholder if the transaction should be treated as "Visa Debit" or "US Debit." Huh?

I've been in the payments space for a long time, and I've spent at least half that time covering card payments, yet I mentally stumble whenever I see that prompt. I'm not alone. Not long ago I overheard a harried shopper say to a cashier, "But my card is Mastercard."

Merchants and the folks running debit card networks are frustrated, too. They have complained the prompts, specified under the Visa Selection of Payment Rule, deny merchant choice over processing networks and undermine competition in violation of Federal Reserve Regulation II, which implements the Durbin Amendment to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Visa insisted it wasn't trying to force merchants to route debit card payments through its network, but several merchants countered that the wording in their acceptance contracts suggested otherwise.

In November 2016, the Fed updated its commentary on Reg II, clarifying that no payment network can directly or indirectly inhibit merchant routing choices, including through technical specifications. The Federal Trade Commission also contacted Visa about its controversial routing rule, and a group of trade associations representing retailers wrote Visa's management demanding "immediate steps" to bring the rules into conformance with Reg II.

Before the month was out, Visa published a public letter explaining that network routing provisions in its EMV rules do not apply to "regulated U.S. debit transactions." So much for that problem, but it's not apt to open the floodgates to merchant adoption of EMV.

Delays in EMV implementation

EMV is a globally accepted security protocol named for the companies that developed it: Europay, Mastercard and Visa. It covers chips embedded in credit and debit cards and POS devices that accept the cards. Under edicts handed down by Mastercard and Visa, most U.S. merchants were expected to have EMV compliant terminals in place by October 2015. (Petroleum dealers with card-accepting fuel pumps were given additional time to comply.)

Most consumers now have credit and debit cards with embedded EMV chips. Visa reported in October 2016 that 388.8 million Visa chip cards are in Americans' wallets: 180.6 million credit cards and 208.3 million debit cards. Visa also reported 1.72 million U.S. merchants were accepting EMV chip cards as of October.

The top five states for merchant EMV adoption are New Jersey (48 percent of merchants there accept chip cards), Pennsylvania (44 percent), Florida (43 percent), and New York and California (43 percent each). U.S. merchants handled 771 million payments using Visa-branded chip cards during October, Visa said. The card company also reported that among EMV-compliant merchants losses to counterfeit card fraud were down 43 percent, compared with 2014.

Despite Visa's upbeat mood, merchant EMV compliance continues to lag. There are 27.6 million businesses operating in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Various estimates put the total of card-accepting merchants in the United States at about 8 million. So using Visa's data, fewer than one in four U.S. merchants accepts EMV cards.

The Strawhecker Group reported in September 2016 that 44 percent of card-accepting merchants in the United States have EMV terminals; but just 29 percent can accept chip-card payments. Jared Drieling, Business Intelligence Manager at TSG, blames device manufacturers for the slow go.

"EMV terminal vendor supply and delays in the terminal activation/certification process are the bottlenecks in the migration," Drieling said. "It is important to note that EMV adoption by merchant industry can vary drastically, for example, quick service restaurants are suspected to be laggards in the transition." This could prove costly. Over 60 percent of noncompliant merchants studied by TSG earlier this year were experiencing increased chargebacks.

Lagging EMV adoption also has an impact on mobile payments adoption, notably mobile payment schemes that rely on near field communication (NFC) technology. NFC is the technology used to support contactless tap-and-go payments. It has been incorporated into all leading smartphones. NFC functionality also has been built into new EMV-compliant terminals.

Merchants, however, seem unaware their new terminals support NFC acceptance. "I don't think NFC has been explained to many merchants," Alexis King, Director of Partner Relations at National Merchants Association, said during a recent interview. Taking the time to explain this could make EMV more palatable.

Debit update

In related news, a new Fed report revealed that issuer costs are down and fraud is up. The Durbin Amendment requires the Fed to implement and monitor the impact of debit card interchange caps. A report issued on Nov. 30 – 2015 Interchange Fee Revenue, Covered Issuer Costs, and Covered Issuer and Merchant Fraud Losses Related to Debit Card Transactions – is the fourth Fed report issued on debit cards since capping debit interchange. That cap is 21 cents plus five basis points on the transaction total. Issuers that meet certain fraud prevention standards can add a penny to the charge. Small issuers (those with consolidated assets under $10 million) are exempt from the caps, as are government-administered payment programs and certain reloadable prepaid cards.

The Fed surveyed debit card networks as well as issuers for the report, collecting pricing and cost data from 2015. These are some of the metrics revealed:

Patti Murphy is Senior Editor of The Green Sheet and President of ProScribes Inc. She is also the founder of Email her at

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

previous next

Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | Simpay | USAePay | Impact Paysystems | Board Studios