What is EMV and why should I care?

EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, which were the three companies that originally developed the ‘smart/chip card’ technical standard for credit card processing.   Chip cards can contain a small integrated circuit (IC) or a radio frequency identification (RFID) circuit for physical or over the air communication with card reader terminals.   The benefit of EMV is that it greatly enhances the security of the credit card and your personal information that is stored upon it versus the traditional magnetic stripe cards which can be cloned/skimmed fairly easily and cheaply.   The biggest security addition is encryption, as the traditional magnetic stripe card stores your data unencrypted – while the chip card is fully encrypted and almost impossible to clone or decipher.

Most of the world currently uses EMV technology and the USA is one of the last major countries to adopt this technology and the rollout of cards and card readers is expected to take several more years.

Chip card distribution to consumers in the US started in 2015 and is ongoing.  Debit cards are beginning to be distributed in 2016 and will occur throughout the year.    Many businesses are still awaiting card readers to be certified and ready for EMV, so consumers will continue to see a mix of swipe or dip at checkout for the foreseeable future.

It is also important to note that the EMV mandate is not a requirement at this time, but it is definitely in a business’ best interest to move forward with the installation of EMV equipment, as it reduces their liability, as talked about more in our next section.

Find more questions and answers about EMV at the EMV Connection website (


What is the Liability Shift?

The biggest change for a business accepting credit cards is what is known in the industry as the ‘liability shift’, whereby the business can be financially responsible for fraudulent charges.   Under the new rules, the party (merchant, processor or issuer) supporting the most secure technology for each fraud type will prevail in a chargeback; and in case of a technology tie, the fraud liability as of October 2015 generally is expected to remain as it is today – with the issuer.   Businesses that move to EMV compliant technology and ‘dip’ instead of ‘swipe’ are going to mitigate this liability risk.

Under the new rules, a business’ liability risk for fraud should be mitigated if they are using EMV equipment for all transactions involving a card with a chip – and requiring offline/online PINs for all PIN-preferred chip cards.

The EMV Connection website has a great white paper that explains your risks in more detail.

Tips / Gratuity

Do you accept tips/gratuity?

If you answered YES, the new EMV cards and card readers will require the amount of the tip to be input into the card reader while the card is still in the chip slot.   This is a big change from the current process of swiping the card and then adjusting sales at close of business to input the tip amount.   This is not possible with EMV, as after-the-fact adjustments to a transaction are not allowed – but this change will make the close of day reconciliation process much easier and faster.

While this may sound harder than the current pay-at-the-table process that most restaurants use, rest assured that it is not difficult and Europe and Canada have been doing it this way for over a decade.

Read more about restaurant-specific solutions


I already have card readers – am I going to need new equipment?

It depends.   If your current card readers don’t have an EMV slot in the front, then they will absolutely have to be replaced.   If you have a newer card reader with an EMV chip slot, it is often still unable to process EMV cards without software upgrades and security upgrades.   Some merchant providers have also developed proprietary systems that prevent the readers from being upgraded or working with another merchant processor.    In these cases, you will need new equipment should you decide to move to our merchant processor partner.

If you do end up needing new equipment – the savings realized with our merchant processing partner will offset the cost of this new equipment over a short time period.    For smaller businesses with limited cash flow, our MP partner can also provide 0% financing for 90 days.   This allows these smaller businesses to split the cost of equipment over this time period and allow their processing savings to pay for the equipment and defer any out-of-pocket expenses.


POS Systems

Can you work with existing POS systems?

We can typically work with any existing POS system – but there are a small number of POS companies that charge a large ‘changeover’ fee to make the small number of backend system changes necessary for your existing POS to work with our merchant processing partner.   This is usually because these POS vendors are compensated by your current merchant processor and the POS vendor doesn’t want you to make a switch and lose any revenue.   The biggest offenders that are typically seen are NCR, Aloha and Dinerware.

I don’t have a POS system, but am interested in one – can you help us?

Yes – we can recommend a POS for you based on your business needs.   For smaller businesses, ShopKeep is a great solution that is also economical.