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Payments Heavy Hitters Move To Streamline Small-Merchant EMV Rollouts

Three heavy hitters in the payment-card industry are trying to smooth the path for small merchants to support EMV chip cards by launching an education and pre-qualification program for the companies that provide their card processing connections.

On Thursday (April 30), the Payments Security Task Force, the PCI Security Standards Council and the EMV Migration Forum announced a program for Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to speed up testing and certification for their point-of-sale systems to support EMV. Those systems must be in place by Oct. 1, 2015, or liability for payment-card fraud will fall on the merchants.

Widespread failure to meet that deadline is looking increasingly likely. As few as 11 percent of small merchants are expected to meet the deadline, and in a recent interview with MPD CEO Karen Webster, Verifone VP Shan Ethridge said that a typical processor serving small businesses might be facing 1,600 different certifications to make the EMV jump, a four- to six-month process. The EMV deadline is now five months away.

And that’s not even counting the time required to explain EMV chip cards to small merchants. “One of the greatest challenges in the move to chip is helping the millions of small and mid-sized merchants understand and adopt the technology,” Visa VP of global risk products Stephanie Ericksen said in a prepared statement. “A streamlined process will help their payment technology suppliers better prepare and implement chip card acceptance, as the push to chip gains greater traction.”

The program includes an educational component provide a clear explanation of how to implement EMV chip card support, a list of service providers independently accredited by major payment networks to provide chip consulting and expertise, and a pre-qualification process to streamline the path for VARs and ISVs with each of the major U.S. payment networks.

The VAR would then work with its acquirer to receive final certification of the solutions the VAR’s merchants need to process EMV chip card transactions.

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