Tales from the Terminal: Transitioning to EMV®


I recently made a purchase with my new chip debit card at a store in town. While waiting for the transaction to be completed, I made light conversation with the cashier. “So, how are your customers reacting to the switch to EMV?,” I asked. “They hate it,” he responded succinctly. Apparently they are not alone.

The most recent Insight Report from Mercator Advisory Group’s biannual CustomerMonitor Survey conducted last June reveals that U.S. consumers want EMV cards but find using them frustrating. The report states that many cardholders understand and are not bothered by the fact that they must dip the chip card in the checkout terminal at the point of sale (POS) rather than swipe it. But 28 percent of chip cardholders are bothered by the entire process, consider it confusing or try to avoid stores that force them to dip their chip card rather than swipe it. Somewhat surprisingly, young adults (52 percent) and mobile payers (58 percent) were especially likely to say so, according to Mercator, which concludes that some of these consumers may be likely to use mobile payments via their digital wallets whenever they can to circumvent EMV cards.

“Consumers are excited by the implied security enhancement of EMV and want to obtain EMV-enabled cards, but they don’t want to be bogged down by early implementation issues at the point of sale,” explains Karen Augustine, manager of Primary Data Services at Mercator and author of the report. recently reported on the phenomenon from the vantage point of cashiers on the front lines across the U.S. who deal daily with chip card customers who aren’t familiar with proper EMV etiquette at the POS. Between placating frustrated shoppers and feeling pressure from management to keep lines moving, the transition to chip cards has been a struggle for many of them that has, on occasion, resulted in some unusual behavior.

“I had to physically swat a bunch of hands away,” one (former) Trader Joe’s cashier related. “I took to putting my finger over the slot because if you dipped the card even a second before you had to start all over. Then there were a million other prompts before finally it let you get the receipt out. I’d say it added an extra two minutes to every transaction.”

The article concludes with “tips from the dipping pros” on the most efficient way to process a chip card at the POS. Similar instruction is available on the TransFirst® website, including processing both EMV and NFC transactions.

From personal experience, I agree that education is the foundation of a successful EMV experience for merchant and customer alike. The very first time I used my chip card was six years ago in a restaurant in Canada, which was well into its transition to EMV. At the end of the meal, the server brought the credit card terminal to the table. I was familiar enough with EMV to know how to insert my card, but not familiar enough with the process to leave it in the terminal. I withdrew the card almost immediately, invalidating the transaction. The server then patiently explained that the card had to remain in the terminal until the transaction was approved. Lesson learned!


EMV is a registered trademark or trademark of EMVCo LLC in the United States and other countries.


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