Over the holidays both retail employees and customers got a dose of EMV reality. As a customer armed with a new EMV chip card approached a terminal to pay for his goods, he encountered a confusing situation. Some terminals didn’t accept chip cards and it was obvious he had to swipe. Others had a slot for pin cards and a swipe mechanism, and the clerk was quick to point out which to use. Others still allowed for the swipe, only to be followed by a loud beeping to instruct the user to use his chip. And then there were the EMV enabled terminals, with a slot visible to the card holder, but without the EMV functionality. Clerks, annoyed with the repetition, hastily made signs in some locations “officially” pointing out the shortcomings.
The result was confused consumers, confused clerks, and an overall sense of annoyance. But one thing was clear: EMV is here, and nobody is immune to it. If you don’t have an EMV terminal, it is only a matter of time until your customers ask for it. If you have an EMV terminal that isn’t working yet, your customers will be confused and your clerks will be annoyed. And even if you have an EMV terminal, fully functioning, there is still a learning curve causing pain points.
And then there is the question of speed.
Stare at a clock while running an EMV card, and it can seem like an eternity. "But sadly, Americans are now learning that it can take longer for their transactions to be completed using credit cards with the new EMV chips,” According to LowCards.com. “Since this technology is new to most of us, and is purported to be more advanced than the old magnetic stripes, many are wondering why we are being forced into the slow lane when we insert, rather than swipe, our cards.”
Inserting the card and keeping it there is proving to be a point of education for consumers and clerks, who are used to the quick swipe. The amount of time it takes while the card is inserted is much longer than the 1 second swipe, due in part to the encryption of the data and terminal configurations.
To make matters worse, if a consumer removes the card too soon, the clerk is forced to reset the whole transaction. It is no longer a matter of just re-swiping. All this adds up to more time, more confusion, and more frustration.
Bottom line is, it is obvious you can no longer hide from EMV if you are in a face-to-face transaction environment. But simply having EMV enabled and functioning won’t eliminate your frustrations either. Our advice to merchants is to be patient no matter what circumstance you find yourself in, with or without EMV machines. It will take some time, but Americans will eventually catch on to what Europeans and Canadians have figured out years ago, with the reward of added security and removal of chargeback liability on merchants.