Many merchants now ready to use EMV, but stuck in bottleneck

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

In recent months, much has been made of the fact that while the EMV liability shift went into effect, some companies impacted by it still take the risk of accepting traditional swiped credit and debit card purchases. Further, many companies that are still not required to make the switch want to do so, but now say that they're only not accepting such purchases because they haven't been certified by some of the world's largest payment processing companies.

Through the end of June, nearly half of all retailers said that they had taken all the necessary steps to adopt EMV card-reading point-of-sale devices, and 86 percent said that they believed they would be in that position before the end of 2016, according to the latest survey from the National Retail Federation. However, what's interesting is that among those who had not yet moved to adopt EMV, the majority reported that the problem was largely out of their control.

More merchants are ready for EMV, but hitting roadblocks outside their control.More merchants are ready for EMV, but hitting roadblocks outside their control.

What's the issue?
In all, 57 percent said they had the card readers but had not yet been certified, the report said. Of that group, 3 in 5 respondents said the EMV certification process had taken at least six months. Another 17.1 percent indicated their waiting period was in the three- to four-month range.

Further, this comes at a time when 58 percent of companies said that adopting EMV was their biggest challenge this year, but 72 percent said it was their primary goal for 2016, the report said. There is, of course, a major financial incentive behind making the switch, because EMV has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of card-present purchase fraud.

What's being done?
It's worth noting, though, that the certification bottleneck is a problem that has been acknowledged by payment processing giants like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, among others. To that end, those companies are moving to improve the speed with which merchants move through the process and in doing so potentially giving more retailers a better chance to complete this phase by the end of the year at the latest. This comes in addition to the fact that they're also working to make each EMV transaction a smoother, quicker process that benefits both consumers and merchants on an ongoing basis.

As such, merchants that have not yet started the EMV adoption process would likely be wise to begin doing so in the near future, because the sooner they begin their certification efforts, the quicker they will be able to handle such transactions. Even as the payment companies speed up the process, there could be some wait times involved simply because there are so many businesses of all shapes and sizes still going through it.

But the sooner they start, the sooner they will be in a position to reduce instances of fraud in the broader payments ecosystem, and that benefits everyone involved, from retailers to consumers, and the payment processors as well.