NRF Says Retailers Are Stuck With EMV Burdens

Anyone who thought the EMV liability shift was going to be a smooth transition is getting multiple opportunities to change their minds.

Mallory Duncan, general counsel for the National Retail Foundation, was the last to speak his mind on today’s Oct. 1 EMV liability shift. In a Tuesday (Sept. 29) conference call with the press, Duncan expressed his views that because the vast majority of retailers haven’t been able to adequately prepare for the shift, they’re being left by credit card companies and other financial institutions to foot the bill.

“We and our customers should not bear the burden for flaws in a 50-year-old [magnetic card] system,” Duncan said, as quoted by ComputerWorld. “[The transition has] been all stick and no carrot and [the technology] doesn’t work … We would like it to work and we want a secure payment system.”

While the financial toll of the EMV shift might not be known until months after Oct. 1, research firm IHL Services released a paper in June tabulating a $35 billion bill spread across the entire retail industry. Because most merchants need to perform hardware upgrades to meet the minimum standards of EMV capabilities, it’s expected that those costs will primarily fall on retailers.

Speaking to NRF, Alan Lipson, principal marketing manager for retail at SAS, urged retailers to take EMV step by step.

“EMV does solve part of the problem at the POS,” Lipson said. “It is making the POS transaction more secure. But that in and of itself is not going to solve everybody’s cybersecurity problem. There are still going to be hacks. There are still going to be breaches of data.”

Duncan estimated that only 40 percent of U.S. merchants’ payment terminals have been upgraded to accommodate the new standards.

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