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The modern credit card is an American invention—but in the twenty-first century, Europe has led the way in credit card technology. The first ‘smart cards’, equipped with their own computer chips, showed up in France more than thirty years ago. It’s taken a while for those cards, now known as EMV cards, to take hold in the United States, but the trend is irreversible. IT professionals working in retail and hospitality need to know how to navigate the EMV certification process, so their clients and companies can make the most of EMV chip technology.
EMV is Here, and Here’s Why
The move to EMV is mostly about security and fraud concerns, because the computer chip offers far more protection to merchants and customers than the magnetic stripe found on traditional cards. Magnetic stripes contain data that never changes, creating opportunities for identity theft and making it easy to create counterfeit cards. The EMV chip, on the other hand, generates a unique code for each transaction, which makes counterfeit cards useless. Adding a PIN number gives the chip an additional line of defense in cases where a card is lost or stolen. Card fraud has steeply declined in businesses using EMV, but it’s been rising in places that can only process magnetic stripe cards. In fact, banks and other credit card issuers have been able to shift some of the liability for losses onto those businesses, because they can now hold merchants financially responsible if fraud occurs in a transaction using the older technology.
EMV certification is an involved and sometimes lengthy process, but the most important test won’t come until the first customers reach the EMV-equipped point of sale. Improved security won’t make up for a bad experience when a shopper is frustrated by a slow or balky terminal, so make sure your client or company finishes the EMV Certification process with a payment system that’s customer-friendly as well as technically compliant. It should be fast, user-facing, and easy to navigate. Fortunately, a carefully constructed and well-tested EMV system will not only keep customers happy, it will help avoid issues that might delay certification.