MasterCard developing standard to speed EMV checkout times

Dive Brief:

  • MasterCard announced Thursday that it is collaborating with payments networks, acquirers and processors to develop a standard to accelerate shopper transactions across the 1.4 million U.S. merchant locations that accept EMV chip cards.
  • MasterCard offered few specifics on the effort, but said the standard will be based on its fledgling M/Chip Fast solution, which allows customers to remove their EMV-enabled cards from terminals more quickly.
  • Each time an EMV-enabled card is used it creates a unique and dynamic transaction that’s significantly more fraud-resistant than swiping credit and debit cards with magnetic strips. As of April 30, 68% of all U.S.-issued MasterCard-branded consumer credit cards incorporate EMV technology, the company said.

Dive Insight:

While MasterCard (one of the three payment giants behind EMV, along with Europay and Visa) has long trumpeted EMV's security enhancements, many retailers and consumers have bemoaned extended checkout times at chip-active merchant locations across the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal, citing a survey by JDA Software, notes that a chip card piles on eight to 12 additional seconds per checkout, in part because customers are still growing accustomed to using the cards, attempting the traditional mag-stripe process first or requiring attention from the store clerk. At one retailer JDA studied, the additional transaction time could add $3.2 million to annual labor costs.

M/Chip Fast, introduced late last month, promises to accelerate the checkout process by creating a unique code for each transaction to prevent fraud. Once the code is generated, the card can be removed from the point-of-sale reader, which MasterCard said slashes processing times and reduces the cardholder perception of a prolonged checkout experience.

“The whole point of EMV is to reduce counterfeit card fraud,” Chiro Aikat, MasterCard’s senior vice president of product delivery–EMV, said in a press release. “We are impressed with the progress that’s been made so far. We’re taking these steps today to continue the pace of adoption. Making our M/Chip Fast technology available to all parties is our latest investment in this ongoing commitment.”

Visa recently unveiled its own Quick Chip for EMV, which it says cuts as much as 18 seconds from transaction times. The technology, available to retailers as a software download for their EMV-enabled point-of-sale systems, requires no separate reading equipment or different cards: Users are prompted to dip the chip card briefly in the reader and then remove it, reducing the card’s interaction with the terminal to about two seconds.

EMV cards have been the rule across the U.S. since October 2015, although many retailers and banks have been slow to adapt their POS technology and supply EMV cards to customers since. Counterfeit card fraud basis points at EMV-enabled merchants fell by 39% in January 2016 compared with January 2015, MasterCard said. Counterfeit fraud at those stores dropped by 27% in terms of overall U.S. dollar volume during the same timeframe.

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