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EMV Transition Among Small Businesses Still Slow

May 14, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Back when the first stirrings of Europay / Mastercard / Visa (EMV) started showing up, there was a clear concern among small businesses that it would end up requiring a lot of infrastructure modifications that wouldn’t have paid. Sure, larger businesses that took a lot of credit card payments were eager to get in, but that was far from the case all over. Now, three years after the conversion, a new report suggests that EMV is still far from universal, particularly in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.

Essentially, the big problem—according to National Business Systems’ vice president David Riley—is that a lot of SMBs aren’t particularly aware that EMV is now a lot easier to implement than it was three years ago. The newest cash registers and similar hardware have evolved, and taking advantage of both EMV protection and integrated payments technologies.

Granted, such advances were expensive. That prompted a new outlook for other businesses to step in and offer simple solutions that didn’t cost much, but many of these haven’t exactly been heavily promoted.

Riley even underscores one of the biggest issues in EMV in SMB by noting “We have some sectors that are hit hard with EMV fraud and others that are barely touched. I still have existing merchants that have been in business for a very long time that have never had an EMV chargeback. I have other merchants in a different space that got hit so hard … they couldn’t have invested the money [in EMV equipment] fast enough.”

That dichotomy is leading plenty of businesses wondering why they should even bother. Sure, they’re suddenly on the hook for chargebacks, but when you don’t have a chargeback, or maybe one or two in a year, it’s hard to justify that expense. It’s like trying to convince someone who lives in Arizona that they really need to buy flood insurance, because you never know when three feet of rain will suddenly fall in the desert.

That’s changing a bit, though, as prices fall for the new infrastructure and some customers are starting to shy away from businesses that don’t offer the EMV protections. But between the lack of perceived need and the lack of promotion, EMV’s expansion may be poised to stall out.