EMV Update — September 2015

September 24, 2015

As the October EMV Liability Shift date approaches, we wanted to provide a clear explanation of EMV in today’s payments industry landscape, as well as a realistic look at what the coming months will bring.

EMV Chip Card Background

EMV is a joint effort between the card brands to increase card and cardholder security across the globe. Rather than relying on card mag stripe technology (which is the same technology used in cassette tapes), EMV payments use “smart” or “chip” cards. The new cards encode a user’s account information in the embedded chip, which generates a unique, one-time code for each sale. This prevents the data from being used to create counterfeit cards.

Chip cards will be entered into the terminal during a transaction, not swiped. In order to take advantage of the new security measures, existing swipe terminals must be upgraded to EMV-compliant equipment. However, chip cards will still be able to be swiped, as they are today, if a terminal does not support chip transactions.

October Liability Shift Deadline

Starting in October, new rules will go into effect around the financial liability for counterfeit fraud losses. Simply put, the liability for the fraudulent transaction will shift to the party that is not EMV-enabled. If all parties are EMV-enabled, the liability will typically stay with the card issuer.

EMV Challenges for Restaurants

Unlike most other retail settings, where the biggest consumer-facing change for chip cards will be to ask the shopper to dip the card rather than swipe it, restaurants must entirely rethink how they handle card payments. Because the card is never supposed to leave the possession of the cardholder, servers will no longer be able to carry the patron’s card away from the table. Restaurants will either have to implement a “pay-at-the-table” device or have a single register or payment kiosk. It will also mean that diners may have to choose a tip amount at the time they present the card.

POS System and Mobile Payments Users

EMV-enabled hardware and software solutions for point-of-sale systems and mobile payment applications are not fully developed as of yet. Rest assured, we are in frequent contact with our vendor solutions partners. When our partners are able to provide a viable solution for our merchants, OMEGA will be in contact about upgrades and deployment.

QSR/FPS Terminal Applications

EMV provides challenges for non-tip merchants who do not want to bother with a signature if a purchase is under $25. The EMV application will require a signature, regardless of the amount. However, for merchants who have selected the QSR terminal application, there will not be a signature required for any non-EMV transaction under $25.

Starting Point… Not the Endpoint

As the US payments market moves toward EMV adoption, here are some points to consider. According to Visa, just 18% of the 720 million Visa-branded credit, debit and prepaid cards in the US contained an EMV chip as of July. Also, only approximately 4% of merchants and 7% of bank and retail ATMs were enabled for chip card acceptance. While this number is growing, the reality is that not all merchants will be chip card-enabled by October 1, nor are they required to be. According to a Visa official, the company sees “October 1 as the starting point, not the endpoint” of the US conversion.


OMEGA Processing has multiple EMV-enabled terminals available, with various pricing and financing options. We are working closely with the processing networks to ensure that the processing applications are field-ready and free of errors. Please contact our customer service center at 866.888.9724 Ext. 7 with any questions or for more information.

EMv image