NEW YORK – Avi Kaner, a co-owner of the Morton Williams supermarket chain in New York, has spent about $700,000 to update the payment terminals at his stores to accept EMV chip cards. However, he can’t turn them on, writes The New York Times, a bottleneck in offering a more secure payment process that is frustrating retailers—both large and small—across the United States.
Since the EMV liability shift took place on October 1, 2015, retailers have been essentially put on hold to get their payment terminals certified to accept chip cards.
The Times reports the cost of waiting is piling up. “It’s been very frustrating,” Kaner told the news source, noting that he purchased most of the upgraded POS equipment before the Oct. 1 deadline, and he’s still waiting for certification. The delay, he says, has cost him thousands of dollars in payments for fraudulent purchases. “There’s no recourse,” he said.
“The long delays are just the latest black eye for the deployment of the new systems,” writes the Times, noting that some consumers haven’t even received new credit and debit cards with the embedded EMV chip.
First Data, one of the largest payment processors, told the Times that about 20% of the four million American merchants it works with are in the process of being certified, a procedure than can take weeks to months.
Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, told the Times that the payments industry was unprepared to handle the flood of certification requests around the Oct. 1 liability shift deadline. “They didn’t allow for enough time or people to perform this certification,” he said. “Merchants have gotten slammed because they weren’t able to get certified, because the networks failed to provide the necessary resources to do that.”
Kaner commented that since Oct. 1, customers who have contested charges made with their EMV-enabled cards have been successful in reversing transactions, and he’s worried that some customers will use the Oct. 1 liability shift to get out of paying for legitimate purchases. Chargebacks, he said, have increased significantly. “It started out as a trickle, and now it’s turning into a flood,” he told the Times. “In the first couple months, it might have been a few hundred dollars a month. Now, it’s thousands a month.”
"The convenience and fuel channel has numerous retailers in the same situation, having invested upwards of $30,000 per site to be hardware-ready for EMV, only to be put on perpetual hold with approved software," said Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus. "These retailers are trying to avoid the inevitable manufacturing and installation bottlenecks to do the right thing and get ahead of the curve, only to be on perpetual hold by an over-burdened vendor community trying to navigate late specifications and complex certifications. This is what happens when you simply choose a deadline, like the card brands did, without diligence. The premium retailers will pay for this 'hurry up and wait' situation and it will result in higher consumer prices.”