EMV: It’s Time to Talk to Consumers

Originally posted on Vantiv’s Blog.

Guest post written by Patty Walters, Senior Vice President of Merchant Products and Security for Vantiv.

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In a recent Vantiv/Mercator study, only 15 percent of U.S. consumers said that they have an EMV equipped debit or credit card. That’s not surprising, since the industry is still in the early stages of rolling out EMV. What is surprising is that two-thirds of that group said that they have used their cards in chip mode in the U.S. That’s just about impossible, given the relatively small number of EMV terminals out there. It’s more likely that the chip-card owners used their cards in the traditional way by swiping the mag-stripe.

Still, that finding indicates that consumers are a little confused about EMV. (The study also found that one in five weren’t sure whether they actually had an EMV card.) But why shouldn’t they be confused? To them, this is a new and largely unexplained technology.

We expect that the payment brands (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) will largely be responsible for cardholder awareness. Maybe an award-winning Super Bowl commercial extolling the virtues of a safer shopping experience is in our future? But for merchants, the rubber hits the road at the point of purchase and this means that as they implement EMV, they should also consider educating consumers—and employees—about the use of EMV cards and the increased security those cards will bring. Education can also help dispel some consumer myths: The research found that 50 percent believe that criminals can easily intercept contactless card signals at the point of sale, and 39 percent believe that payment cards can be read through a wallet, pocket, or purse.

Educating consumers about EMV can help prevent delays and bad customer experiences at the point of sale. For merchants that are early deployers of EMV, there may also be an opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace based on their commitment to security. In the research, 15 percent of consumers said they’ve seen fraudulent charges due to a stolen account number—and 46 percent of those said that they now think about security with every transaction. In short, consumers are worried about security, and they are likely to be receptive to a retailer’s marketing that touts the increased security of its new EMV capabilities.

Vantiv is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for ATM, Debit Card & Gateway Processing; Credit Card Processing & Servicing; Merchant Services.

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