Four months after EMV Launch

It's been four months since the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) mandate took effect in the United States, yet the migration to EMV-compliant POS terminals is far from complete. Lack of merchant awareness is one reason. An even more compelling factor, however, is the existence of long queues for processor certification of EMV-compliant terminals and software applications.

"You have to get in line early, and you have to be ready when they [certifying companies] are ready," said Jim Dugan, Chief Financial Officer at Charge Anywhere LLC, based in South Plainfield, N.J. But chances are good that most processors will need more time to get ready than initially expected. "It's not an easy process; there are a lot of moving pieces," Dugan added. And it's a process that must be repeated for every payment app, terminal and gateway.

In January 2016, Charge Anywhere heralded certifi-cation of its ComsGate Payment Gateway with Chase Paymentech's Tandem platform. The company had already certified with Chase a series of encrypted devices equipped to accept a variety of EMV payment types through the Charge Anywhere software platform.

"Our EMV solution supports retail and mobile implementations for merchants, and we have a tool kit for software integrators to quickly and easily provide EMV payment functionality with minimal development effort and at a fraction of the cost of developing EMV card acceptance capabilities," Paul Sabella, Charge Anywhere's Chief Executive Officer, said in announcing the certification. Yet, there is still more to be done. "We're already back in line with Chase" for additional certifications, Dugan said during an interview.

The certification queues haven't been lost on the merchant community. "We have lots of retailers who have made and continue to make significant investments in equipment upgrades but cannot avoid the liability shift due to a lack of certification," Gray Taylor, Executive Director of Conexxus, a not-for-profit group focused on convenience store technologies, stated in the fourth quarter of 2015.

And merchants aren't the only parties to card payments that need to be on board. Many card issuers face the same queuing issues that POS hardware and software providers confront. "Individual card issuers in some cases had to get in line with their providers," said Douglas Brent, counsel to the law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC. And, of course, there were cost considerations. "Issuers are looking at their individual business cases," he added. "They are also looking at [customer] risk profiles. … All the October date meant was that the liability shift could occur then," he added.

EMV is a global technology standard that protects against card counterfeiting. EMV cards store vital account and accountholder information in programmable chips and issue a unique code that accompanies each transaction from the point of capture through settlement. It is considered far superior to mag stripe technology, but it also ushers in process changes and customer service issues. For example, chip cards must be inserted (dipped) into a slot and it takes time for the chip to be read, which is a big change from swiping cards through mag stripe readers.