Merchants still slow to adopt EMV?

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

The U.S. is quickly closing in on the one-year anniversary of the EMV liability shift, which saw large merchants across the country take on more of a responsibility for fraudulent credit and debit card payments. And while a massive number of retailers - regardless of size - have moved to adopt this relatively new type of payment, some experts are expressing concern about the rate at which they're doing so.

Indeed, fewer than 3 in 10 merchants in the U.S. are now capable of accepting EMV payments at this time, according to new research from the Strawhecker Group. However, that number will soon be larger, because 44 percent have EMV-capable card readers. Many may still be on their way through certification processes with any number of large payment networks, or have ordered the necessary point-of-sale devices but not yet received them. More to the point, the latter number falls a little short of expectations for the industry; previously Strawhecker had estimated that by this point, about half of all merchants in the U.S. would have adopted EMV.

EMV adoption is moving along slowly but surely.EMV adoption is moving along slowly but surely.

What's the good news?
Interestingly, though, the industry as a whole could still end up meeting expectations for the 2016 calendar year, the report said. Last January, the projections were that about 51 percent of merchants would be set up for EMV before year's end, and that's still seen as an achievable goal.

"EMV merchant adoption has slowed down a bit, at least comparatively speaking to our last EMV survey results in January 2016," said Jared Drieling, business intelligence manager at the Strawhecker Group. "EMV terminal vendor supply and delays in the terminal activation/certification process are the bottlenecks in the migration."

Getting consumers on board
Meanwhile, though, there has also been an issue with consumers' reticence to start using EMV platforms as well, according to PYMNTS. While many companies have EMV card readers available, anecdotal evidence suggests that the reluctance came because of the perception that EMV transactions take longer. But as more retailers require chip-and-PIN to complete standard purchases, that wariness is slowly but surely evaporating.

This is especially true because of the efforts from card issuers to get EMV-enabled plastic into people's wallets over the past few years, the report said. These days, a relatively small percentage of all credit cards in circulation nationwide don't have the attendant microchip, so when the vast majority of shoppers try to check out with the traditional swipe method, a growing number of merchants are asking them to insert their card chip-first instead. That trend is only likely to continue as time goes on and the EMV supply and certification bottlenecks are cleared up.

For all these reasons, the sooner merchants who have remained on the sidelines when it comes to EMV adoption can obtain the right kinds of card readers, the better off the entire payments ecosystem will be. EMV tends to depress instances of card-present fraud, helping both merchants and payment processors. Meanwhile, consumers benefit because their account information is far less likely to be stolen.