Swipe no more — shopping during the EMV transition

Over the last year, there’s been heavy focus on the U.S. and its transition to EMV card acceptance. While chip technology has been around since the early ‘90s, the U.S. is one of the last industrialized countries to implement it.Having read about the slow merchant adoption rate, I was excited for my chance to witness the payment experience first-hand.

Where do I put my card?

The biggest confusion for most shoppers, including myself, is deciding whether you still need to swipe or dip your card. It seems straight forward, however; every store is different. Swipe here, dip there and just when you think you have it figured out, you’re being told to do the opposite. To make things even more confusing, after you’ve swapped out your magnetic stripe cards for the new chip cards and are ready to give it a try, the card reader has a sign over the card-insert which reads, “Please Swipe!”. *Sigh of frustration*

The waiting game

In the past, no one thought about the few seconds it took to swipe their credit card and finish the transaction. With EMV, those few seconds feel like a few minutes. Of course, the new transaction process doesn’t take minutes, but you definitely notice the longer wait time and longer checkout time overall. Unfortunately, this has been the biggest complaint by many shoppers which is why some merchants are choosing to forgo the transition.

Why isn’t it working?

Insert your card and follow the on-screen instructions. Simple enough, right? Not quite. Without fail, everywhere I shopped, there was at least one customer who had to re-start the process and not because there was a problem with their card or the machine. The reason being — the card wasn’t inserted far enough for the card reader to recognize it.

(Photo credit: Nathan W Pyle, Buzzfeed Comics)

What’s next?

It’s clear that there’s still a long road ahead for full EMV migration. If and when this will happen — no one knows. However, there’s already several solutions being implemented to help make the transition easier for both merchants and shoppers.

For shoppers, the longer wait time is the biggest drawback in fully accepting the new EMV payment method. Because of this, there has been an increase in merchants allowing shoppers to insert their card after the first item is scanned which allows the payment process to begin sooner instead of waiting until all items have been scanned. In addition, the introduction of Visa Quick Chip and MasterCard M/Chip Fast which streamlines the checkout process and cuts the processing time to around 2 seconds — just as fast as swiping a card.

For developers of Point of Sale solutions, integrating with Payworks means EMV payment can be accepted right away with no additional steps required. This makes the migration and setup process easier for merchants and will help lead to higher EMV adoption rates.