Small business EMV adoption picking up steam

Category: Merchant Processing Industry

Late last year, the world's largest payment processors started requiring some of the nation's biggest retailers to start processing EMV payments instead of the traditional swiping process. But because that only affected major merchants, many smaller companies didn't take the leap, for any number of reasons. The good news for the payments ecosystem as a whole, though, is that this trend is starting to pick up for the nation's smaller companies.

Through the end of March, only a little more than 1 in 6 small businesses in the U.S. had adopted EMV payments, but that number may be smaller than it ought to be, according to a report from Business Solutions Magazine. Part of this is because the certification process for EMV-enabled point-of-sale terminals has created something of a "bottleneck" in terms of how many people are actually certified versus the number who have the right devices but haven't completed the process yet for one reason or another. It's unclear how many companies fall into the latter category nationwide.

As POS devices get upgraded at small businesses, more consumers will get used to them.As POS devices get upgraded at small businesses, more consumers will get used to them.

Other issues
In addition, though, some smaller companies may have also initially been reticent to adopt EMV because of the pushback some consumers expressed about that payment process when it first rolled out, the report said. Certainly, these transactions take longer than the traditional swipe method, and many consumers reacted negatively to that additional seconds at the point of sale. But as time has gone on, those concerns have started to diminish, as consumers become accustomed to making these newer and more secure types of purchases.

The additional benefit in this regard is that both Visa and MasterCard have recently tried to dramatically speed up the time it takes to complete EMV transactions, so that could further help to assuage any lingering consumer preference issues.

Another potential window of opportunity
Likewise, many small businesses may instead be focusing on rolling out mobile payment acceptance capabilities for their stores, the report said. The good news here is that many of the POS terminals that are now being released with near-field communications enabled will also be able to accept EMV. Indeed, 44 percent of these companies are now at least interested in adopting mobile payments, so that should also help to get them up to speed when it comes to EMV as well. However, it's worth noting that a relatively small percentage of shoppers use the mobile payment option on a regular basis, even if the number is growing quickly.

The fact is that as time goes on, consumers are going to start adopting these newer payment methods - mobile and EMV alike - and in doing so significantly boost the security of the average purchase being made across the U.S. This is something of a nascent period for non-traditional transaction methods. As consumers get more chances to use mobile and EMV on a regular basis, they're almost certainly going to warm to them, and see them as normal even if they don't know about the inherent benefits such purchases provide.