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US Payments Forum EMV Min Requirements Matrix: One Size Does Not Fit All

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We recently marked the one year anniversary of the highly publicized EMV liability shift, which was viewed by many as the deadline for migrating payment card systems to EMV technology. Although progress has been made, the task is far from complete for many stakeholders.

With the majority of US payments cards in use being chip-enabled, EMV cards now represent about three-quarters of purchase volume. While roughly one-third of US merchants have enabled EMV at their point of sale (POS) terminals, only 30 percent of Visa’s credit card transactions are running through a full “chip-on-chip” experience. Debit card rates are only half of that level that. While the underlying EMV picture is somewhat rosier than many of the recent headlines would indicate, there is still more work to be done, particularly among small merchants and the processors supporting them.

Making a Huge Task a Bit Smaller

EMV migration can seem like a daunting task, particularly in the light of the wide scope of this labor-intensive (and arguably non-revenue producing, but fraud reducing) project. A little known fact about EMV, however, is that not every aspect is mandatory.

The US Payments Forum, a cross-industry body focused on supporting the EMV implementation steps, has published The EMV Minimum Requirements Matrix, which provides guidance on the least complex way to deploy EMV. This matrix covers all payment networks and offers a comprehensive view for stakeholders spanning the payments ecosystem.

The multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet contains a wealth of information and is relatively easy to navigate with a little practice. Users will see mandatory EMV attributes are noted with check marks. By clarifying which attributes are optional, stakeholders can then focus on the features important to them given their business model and customer demographics. After all, there’s no reason to implement card features that customers are not going to use. It also empowers product teams to make informed decisions on where it is worthwhile to go above and beyond minimum requirements.

The EMV migration remains a significant undertaking, but the minimum requirements matrix can make it more manageable. Deploying robust automated testing software, with pre-set test script libraries and reporting packages, can also remove much of the pain from the process. 

A July update to the matrix even incorporates requirements for recently announced EMV enhancements from the major card networks (under the names Quick Chip, MChip, etc.) to address market concerns about processing times.

ATMs – The Next Frontier

The EMV liability shift for MasterCard US ATMs occurred this October 21, so ATMs are likely a top-of-mind issue for many readers. The US Payment Forums minimum requirements workbook includes one tab that explicitly addresses ATM terminals. Visa’s ATM liability shift takes effect in October 2017, but most experts agree the majority of the effort is best undertaken now.

Although EMV readiness at the ATM has outpaced POS terminals, (there are far fewer ATMs than POS terminals to address and fewer ATM operators than merchants to engage) industry surveys indicate nearly half of these migrations will also extend into 2017 and beyond.

There is no shortage of ongoing work on the EMV front. However, using the matrix created by the Forum is priceless in helping prioritize that work while also avoiding extra effort not necessary for the environment under consideration.

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