Since the liability shift last October, EMV cards have become much more commonplace in the wallets of American consumers, and the “chip and dip” terminals are widely available at merchants across the country. Although initially a bit bumpy, the transition seems to be going much more smoothly, despite the lack of a PIN number required for the American version – in the United States, “chip and signature” is used with EMV cards rather than “chip and PIN.”
One of the criticisms with EMV cards is that the transactions take longer to complete, but now two of the biggest credit card companies in the world – Visa and MasterCard – have developed ways to help speed up EMV transactions and saving precious seconds for both merchants and consumers.
Visa’s Quick Chip for EMV and MasterCard’s M/Chip Fast are both able to significantly reduce the time needed for a payment terminal to process an EMV transaction, which currently takes about 15 seconds. While a few seconds may not seem like much, when a customer is waiting for her transaction to finish and there’s a line of customers waiting to be rung up behind her, it can seem like an eternity. The longer processing time for EMV transactions has been the major stumbling block for consumers in the transition to the chip cards, as most people are used to simply swiping the card through the terminal, a gesture that takes a second or two at most. With EMV, the payment card is inserted into the payment terminal, where it remains until the transaction is complete and the “all clear” beep is sounded.
Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Security Solutions for MasterCard, said in an article on PYMNTS.com that the M/Chip Fast solution replicates what happens with a magnetic stripe transaction, with the difference being the process flow is changed so the card authentication happens in one step instead of two. This allows the consumer to remove the card before the transaction is completed, and takes care of the transaction in seconds. Stephanie Ericksen, VP Global Risk Products at Visa, told PYMNTS.com that the ability to speed up EMV transactions involves a simple change in the terminal software. “The ability for EMV transactions to continue as usual without the card remaining dipped after the creation of the cryptogram is actually already an existing EMV process, but it is just not widely used,” she said. “With the implementation of Quick Chip, no additional testing or certification is needed from a Visa or EMVCo point of view, there are no changes to the process and the technology is inherently EMV compliant.”
In addition to MasterCard and Visa, there are several companies, mostly on the POS side, working to develop solutions that would help speed up EMV transactions and put an end to the consumer’s frustration with the lag time between when the card is inserted into the terminal and when it’s safe to remove. If, as Ericksen says, the technology is there and just requires a change in terminal software, faster EMV transactions across the board cannot be far away, and that would be good for merchants and consumers alike.