Was the timing wrong for the EMV conversion deadline?

One of the factors that may have hurt retailers in the EMV conversion last year could have been the deadline itself. Last October 1 was supposed to be the cutoff for stores to accept chip-based EMV cards, which are reportedly more secure against fraud thanks to the random codes generated each use through its embedded chip. Since then, actual retailer use has been haphazard, even among those that have the necessary equipment installed. 

EMV terminals still allow users to swipe their cards, which is exactly what they're doing in some stores instead of taking advantage of EMV technology. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently quoted Jaren Drieling of the Strawhecker Group, who referred to the holiday rush last year as a possible impediment for companies that had to make the switch.

"If you're a merchant, it's a huge undertaking to make that change right before the holidays," he said, according to the source. "Some saw it as a possible disruption in the checkout line causing friction and lost sales." That same article noted that some chains are physically blocking the EMV slots on updated cardreaders. 

Although the initial timeline may have left merchants at a disadvantage, there's still potential to upgrade a terminal now and try to make up for lost time. While some of the issues behind slow modernization involve certification , implementing approved card processing software may also be part of the gradual move towards modernization. By only using some of the capabilities of a PoS terminal, businesses can alienate customers, especially if there is no clear plan for accepting chip cards in the future.

With a secure timeline for using a card payment processor, stores may be able to do right by their customers while following the national EMV mandate.

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