EMV catching on globally, but U.S. merchants still lagging

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

The EMV liability shift has grabbed headlines in the U.S. for more than a year, but that payment platform has been in use globally for many years. The good news is merchants across the U.S. are actively playing catch-up, and doing so with greater enthusiasm than they were even a few months ago, but there's still a lot of ground to make up as global adoption increases.

For the 12-month period from July 2015 to June of this year, the total portion of all card-based transactions that were EMV-compliant worldwide rose to 42.4 percent, according to the latest data from the global governing body EMVCo. That was up sharply from just 33 percent in the same period a year earlier. And while it may stand to reason that slow but steady EMV adoption in a developed and heavily populated country like the U.S. was a big driver of such activity, the data suggests other regions were big-time drivers over the course of those 12 months.

EMV use keeps growing globally.EMV use keeps growing globally.

A closer look at the global numbers
Nearly 9 in every 10 card-present transactions in either Africa or the Middle East were made with EMV, pushing them to second in the world in this regard, the report said. In the same 12-month span a year prior, that number stood at less than 84 percent, showing that adoption actually increased sharply there. Not far behind, though, were North American and Caribbean nations not including the U.S., where 88,8 percent of such purchases involved EMV, up from 87 percent a year earlier.

But the global leader was Europe Zone 1, where 97.6 percent of all purchases made with a card utilized EMV technology, the report said. That number was up very slightly from 97 percent a year earlier. In Europe Zone 2, the chip-and-PIN share of the pie grew to 75 percent from the previous 65.4 percent.

The biggest gainer in the world that wasn't the U.S., though, was Asia, where fewer than 58 percent of all transactions were completed using EMV, the report said. That number was up from just 33.6 percent on an annual basis, highlighting just how strong demand has been.

What about the U.S.?
Finally, the number of EMV transactions across the United States were encouraging in terms of incremental growth, but still lagged behind the rest of the world, according to Business Insider. Through the end of the second quarter of the year, only 7 percent of card-present transactions utilized chip-and-PIN, but that number was up from 0.26 percent (about 1 in every 400) just a year earlier. That's growth of 2,800 percent in a single year.

It should be noted that the first one-third of the period examined by EMVCo for this study - from July to the start of October - preceded the liability shift, potentially skewing the numbers downward, the report said.

Certainly this shows a worldwide trend that's starting to catch on at home, but it's incumbent upon merchants - of all sizes - to make sure they're doing all they can to adopt point-of-sale devices capable of handling the more secure EMV and mobile payment transactions of the future.