Everything you wanted to know about the faster EMV chip cards

Following the switch to EMV chip cards last October, merchants that implemented chip card readers at the check-out lanes noticed something besides the initial confusion – that the time to process a transaction was taking much longer versus a simple card swipe. The time varied greatly by terminal type, but a study carried out by JDA Software Group claimed that it took an extra 8 – 12 seconds per checkout. In the retail world, those are precious seconds that can drive cost for extra labor to open additional check-out lanes.

Luckily, solutions have been introduced

The initial implementation to process EMV (the standards body that dictates how chip cards are processed in terminals) had the cardholder keep the card in the terminal slot until the authorization response was received from the issuer. Depending on network speeds and the capabilities of all the entities between the store and the issuer that round trip accounted for almost all of that extra 8 to 12 seconds. However, other payment methods, such as using Apple Pay, did not require holding the phone near the terminal for the same length of time. So the card networks (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and Discover) started working on a solution that worked more like the Apple Pay model. With the new solution, the chip card still needs to be inserted for the chip to be read, but can then be removed and put away while the authorization round trip occurs. Visa (as well as AmEx and Discover) called their version of the solution Quick Chip, while MasterCard labeled theirs M/Chip Fast, and it is offered to merchants and their acquirers free of charge. In all cases, the credit/debit/prepaid card does not have to be reissued, the card works on both the old and new versions. Also, the hardware at the checkout terminal does not have to be changed, and no new certification is required. New software does have to be downloaded to each terminal, which will take some time to complete, and the processors involved in the roundtrip of the authorization need to make changes to accommodate the faster process. But the faster process has already been implemented successfully in several very large retailers.

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