Some Retailers Disable Chip Card Readers

Challenges with speed of service during the holidays lead some retailers to disable EMV-enabled readers.

December 29, 2015

NEW YORK – Forbes contributor Kate Ashford writes that a trip to her local CVS drugstore led to an interesting development at checkout: The chip reader for EMV-enabled cards had been taken offline during the holidays because chip transactions were slowing down speed of service.

Although that particular CVS location probably thought it was doing its customers a favor by speeding up the lines and transaction time, disabling its EMV card readers would make it liable “for any fraud that occurs as a result of card swipes there—a change that went into effect on October 1,” Forbes writes.

“CVS would be liable in this case,” Matt Schulz of told Forbes. “It’s not just about having the equipment, it’s about having it deployed and operational.” However, he wasn’t surprised by the choice to disable the EMV card readers. “Many retailers are willing to risk taking on extra liability in order to spare themselves and their customers the headache of dealing with the new chip cards during the holidays,” he added.

Citing a recent Harbortouch survey, which found that more than half of consumers surveyed are unaware of what EMV or a chip credit card is, Forbes writes that one in five consumers cite transaction time as their main concern when using EMV-enabled cards.

“The findings of this study indicate that EMV could pose serious challenges for credit card companies and retailers as the busy holiday season [continues],” said Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Harbortouch. “Varying rates of adoption and opinions on the benefits of ‘chip’ cards means more can be done by all parties to ensure a smooth transition on October 1 and beyond.”