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If not EMV technology, then what?

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EMV adoption isn’t going as quickly as some issuers hope, despite the fact that consumers are ready and willing to use their new payment cards. Simply put, EMV certification processes aren’t helping matters, since getting certified is a long and expensive endeavor if companies don’t get some help from payments pros. 

We’ve discussed those topics in more detail in our past blog posts, but we – and for that matter, retailers and merchants – haven’t asked or answered one very important question: If you don’t implement and support EMV technology, what other options are there for securely processing payments?

Mobile payments
Richard Crone, CEO of Crone Consulting, told Bloomberg that there is definitely a chance mobile payment apps could catch on before EMV does, predicting EMV technology will not be ubiquitous in the U.S. for five to 10 years.

That said, organizations offering mobile payment apps to consumers haven’t settled on a singular solution for securing their transactions. Some use tokenization, or unique distortions of tokenization as in Apple Pay’s case, while others such as Samsung Pay leverage Magnetic Secure Transaction in conjunction with NFC (near-field communication).

Additionally, mobile payments might seem like a viable payment method, but in reality, accepting that technology often requires a hardware/Point of Sale update as well. Mobile payments aren’t really an alternative to EMV, but rather a transactional method that will likely live alongside chip-based payment cards for at least another decade. So, why not upgrade your systems for both?

 Mobile Payments 

Cardless payments
Google is currently experimenting with a hands- and card-free payment app for consumers. Shoppers will simply say “I’ll pay with Google” at checkout, and the app uses Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and location services to identify if the user is actually in the vicinity of that transaction. Then, the cashier asks for your initials and compares identities with digital photos.

Is this the solution for cardless payments? Time will tell, but if Google’s Hands Free doesn’t put payment card data in front of retailers, then it is promising.

Let’s be real
EMV is not going anywhere – you will be forced to update at some point. And even if you aren’t literally forced by banks and issuers to support EMV technology, consumers and their demands will push you over the edge: Eventually, consumers will demand that merchants invest in the security of their payment card information, and those that don’t will likely lose at least some business over the stand-off.

“EMV is not going anywhere.”

EMV technology is one leg on the tripod of retail security, and it’s technically only there for consumers’ sake. In that regard, it doesn’t really matter how people choose to complete transactions securely: You’ll need to upgrade your payments environment anyway to better position yourself to meet shoppers’ demands. EMV or not, mobile payments or not, you still must do your part to secure payment data. The best way to protect your brick-and-mortar payments system today – regardless how your customers pay – is point-to-point encryption, tokenization and… EMV. 


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