EMV Readiness at Fuel Pump Still Lags

Conexxus finds 52% of owners/operators don’t have any sites with outdoor EMV vs. 70% in a prior survey. 

July 09, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Just 15% of fuel retailers, fuel distributors/wholesalers and major oil firms surveyed by Conexxus indicated that they have fully deployed EMV-compliant payment systems at their fuel pumps, according to a new Conexxus survey of retailer readiness for the EMV liability shift for automated fueling dispensers (AFD).  

The survey is a follow-up to a 2019 Conexxus EMV survey, which found the vast majority of sites were fully in-store EMV operational (86%), while only 14% of sites were fully EMV operational on the fuel island. Conexxus shortened the 2020 survey to focus only on outdoor EMV, including contact (when the card is inserted in the reader) and contactless payment.

Conexxus fielded the survey from February 27 to March 31, 2020, before the major credit card companies this spring agreed to delay the AFD liability shift date to April 16 or 17, 2021, from the October 2020 deadline. All survey responses still assumed the October date. As a result, Conexxus plans a follow-up survey in the fall.

Conexxus surveyed a cross section of major oils, fuel distributors/wholesalers and company owned/retail site operators. Only respondents who own and operate sites in the U.S. that sell fuel were included. In total, 91 unique completed surveys were received, representing 16,095 retail sites.

Except for owners/operators of 10 or fewer stores, the industry is making progress in installing at least a few outdoor EMV sites. In the latest survey, about 52% of the respondents said they had no sites with EMV deployed at their pumps, compared with 70% in the 2019 survey. Among gas stations that said they haven’t implemented outdoor EMV, 89% said they intended to adopt it, while 10% of respondents said they were still undecided. All respondents in the undecided group were owners/operators with 10 or fewer stores.

The cost of upgrading is a major stumbling block, cited as the top reason by 60% of 2020 respondents, compared with 43% of 2019 respondents. Those said the risk of upgrading didn’t justify the cost fell to zero, a marked improvement over the 43% of respondents in the 2019 survey who thought the expense not worth it.

Given the coronavirus pandemic, consumers have shown a willingness to use contactless payments, and the latest Conexxus survey found strong support among owners/operators for contactless card payments at the pump, particularly after COVID-19 hit the US. Among survey respondents who responded after COVID-19 hit, 74% said they have or plan to implement contactless EMV at the pump. This compares with 51% of respondents who responded before COVID-19 hit.  

The United States has nearly 153,000 retail fueling and convenience stores which perform 160 million transactions per day with annual sales totaling almost $648 billion, according to the 2020 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count. Card transactions comprise the most popular payment method, at 73% of all sales transactions.

See the full results in the Spring 2020 Conexxus EMV Preparedness Report. For more EMV resources, visit the EMV topics page at convenience.org or the EMV resource page at conexxus.org . And Convenience Matters podcast fans, don’t miss “EMV Upgrades Made Easier.” NACS hosts Carolyn Schnare, director of strategic initiatives, and Donovan Woods, director of operations for the Fuels Institute, talk with Dan Harrell, chief innovation officer with Invenco, on how to update fuel pumps to be EMV compliant.

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