EMV

Retailers Caught in Terminal Certification Crossfire

If, like New York merchant Avi Kaner, you had just spent $700,000 upgrading your POS terminal for chip cards in time for the liability shift, you too might feel a bit miffed that, almost a full half-year later, those machines aren’t working because the machines haven’t been certified yet.

And, according to The New York Times, Kaner is not alone.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Kaner said in an interview with NYT last week at his office in the Bronx, the home of his family-owned business.

Kaner not only spent all the money on the machines, but he told NYT that he is also now on the hook for thousands of dollars in fraudulent payments for purchases.

“There’s no recourse,” Kaner said.

The last thing EMV in the U.S. needed was another hassle associated with it, since consumers are still waiting for cards, some merchants haven’t even made the preliminary moves toward adoption and those that have are dealing with consumers complaining of confusion and slower lines.

And while some of those things were impressively well-foreseen, the EMV certification delay has come as something of an unpleasant surprise.

There is lots of blame being traded. Banks say retailers should have gotten on top of upgrading faster; retailers accuse banks and certification companies of being partners with no mutual interest in moving this along.

“I think there are merchants who should have been prepared and aren’t,” said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst with research firm Aite Group. “I think there are merchants who thought they were prepared but aren’t.”

Payment processors “don’t have any incentive to hurry the certification along,” said Patrick J. Coughlin, a lawyer for retailers in a recent lawsuit that accuses the major card networks of deliberately creating impossible requirements for merchants. “They’re not the ones paying the fraud charges.”

As for how widely felt the delays are is a matter of some debate. First Data estimates about 20 percent of the 4 million merchants it works with are in the middle of the certification process.

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