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The EMV Chip Card Effect: Longer Store Lines

If retail payments have been trending in one direction over the last few years, it’s to get rid of any and all obstacles in the process of a transaction that might cause hesitant shoppers to take their business elsewhere. However, few thought that boosting credit card security would throw a major roadblock in the path toward frictionless payments.

Unfortunately, it appears as if the long-awaited shift to EMV has produced an unintended and particularly frustrating consequence — longer lines. Several anonymous employees at Trader Joe’s told the New York Post that the longer process of dipping, as opposed to swiping, a card — as well as a general lack of awareness of the change on the part of both consumers and store employees — has introduced a level of annoyance into the checkout process that didn’t exist before.

“It’s so annoying; it’s not even funny,” one TJ’s cashier told the Post. “It’s more time-consuming; it’s frustrating.”

The fact that EMV has elongated the checkout process isn’t news to retail experts. In an interview with The Village Voice, Steve Mathison, senior vice president of payment acceptance at First Data, explained that EMV wasn’t designed to fit in perfectly with modern retail shopping habits. However, he believes that it’s not the end of the world for businesses that are willing to adapt to new challenges, like longer lines and frustrated customers.

“How EMV works and how it kind of fits in with the culture of how we operate with our cards and how we behave in [stores], it’s not a perfect mesh yet,” Mathison said. “But there are technologies and implementation styles that the [retailers] can use to make it as seamless as possible.”

Brick-and-mortar retailers struggling with unhappy customers should try out those “technologies and implementation styles” sooner rather than later; the longer they wait, the more shoppers they could bleed to online brands that don’t have any lines to speak of.

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