EMV Chip Cards: A Guide for Small Businesses

EMV chipped credit or debit cards offer advanced security and protection from fraud. EMV (an acronym for EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa) refers to a technical standard for microchips used in credit and debit cards, as well as the devices used to read them. Credit card companies developed this global standard to regulate and increase the safety of card payments. Credit or debit cards with an EMV chip look the same as regular credit or debit cards, with the addition of a microprocessor chip. Many EMV chip cards still have a magnetic stripe as well, so that cardholders can still use them if a store does not have an EMV card.

Why is EMV important?

Credit card fraud is a major threat in the United States, partly because there are still many cardholders using magnetic stripe cards and many businesses that don’t accept EMV chip cards. EMV chip cards are considerably more secure than magnetic stripe cards.

Magnetic stripe cards have been used since the 1960s, and use technology that is no more sophisticated than a cassette tape. Data is stored on the magnetic stripe, which makes that data very easy to duplicate and reuse. Because these cards have been in circulation for so long, the tools and technology to copy the card’s data are well-developed and easily available.

EMV chips, by contrast, are a newer and more advanced technology that is more resistant to data theft and duplication. Unlike the static data on a magnetic stripe card, an EMV chip generates a unique code each time the card is used, making the data valid only for each transaction as it occurs. Intercepting this data is exponentially more difficult for criminals, and even if it is intercepted, the data would only be useful for a single transaction and won’t go through if used again. EMV alone does not provide 100% perfect protection against any possible data breaches, but it creates a much stronger security solution than older forms of credit and debit cards.

EMV compliance for merchants

From the merchant’s perspective, the benefits of EMV chip cards are even greater. By upgrading their card readers to accept EMV chip cards, merchants can do their part in preventing credit card fraud. Additionally, having EMV-compliant card readers is particularly advantageous to small and medium-sized businesses, as it signals to criminals that the business has up-to-date advanced security measures, which can deter potential fraudulent activity. Any rational criminal will simply move on to one of your competitors who does not have this extra level of protection, and who is, therefore, a much easier target.

EMV compliance is easily achieved by upgrading your credit card terminal or card reader to an EMV-compliant version. You may also need to upgrade the software in your point-of-sale system. Your payment processor or an IT technician can assist in the installation and setup of all the EMV-enabled equipment and software that you may need. It is recommended that larger systems also go through thorough testing to ensure EMV-compliance.

EMV technology offers merchants an additional layer of security that protects against credit card fraud. EMV compliance also shields businesses from the EMV liability shift that requires merchants to take responsibility for the costs associated with fraud if they do not comply with EMV standards.

For more information about EMV chip cards or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.


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