Why Aren’t Retailers Using Their EMV Machines?

Why Aren’t Retailers Using Their EMV Machines?

Because I work in the payments industry, I get excited when I see an EMV point-of-sale machine whenever I’m checking out of a retail store. To me, it signifies progress.

I chuckle when the person in front of me quickly inserts their card in and out, similar to swiping. You cannot blame them. Swiping is all U.S. consumers have known.

Lately, however, I’m seeing a lot of EMV machines at the point-of-sale that aren’t yet in use, and wondering why the delay.

Retailers Playing Russian Roulette

It was only a few days ago when I was purchasing print cartridges for my printer at home at a large office retailer. At the checkout, I inserted my credit card. Nothing.

“Oh, we haven’t activated our new machines yet,” the gentleman said at checkout. “We’re still swiping.”

“When do you think they’ll be activated?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders. “We haven’t been told.”

“Wow. These were supposed to be ready and functional by Oct. 1. Hopefully, there won’t be a data breach here.”

He had a confused look about him, like this was news to him.


Since that exchange, I’ve seen EMV machines, not yet functional, at several retailers large and small. One large retailer had a piece of tape over the card entry with a note saying, “NOT YET.”

It begs the question: WHEN? When will retailers activate their EMV machines? We’re in a war at the moment. Does anyone not remember 2013-14, when seemingly every few days we’d hear and read of a major restaurant or retailer that suffered a data breach?

True, EMV credit cards are not the ‘silver bullet’ – tokenization and encryption should be added to be a near perfect solution – so fraud will still occur. But counterfeiting will drop significantly.

What is the Reason?

Noted online security expert Brian Krebs blogged about this on February 16 and, in interviews with payments experts Allen Weinberg of Glenbrook Partners, and Terry Crowley of TranSend, offered two explanations why merchants are holding out as long as they can.

  1. Educating Consumers: Weinberg said that retailers are avoiding educating consumers on how to insert, which would slow checkout lines significantly. The average EMV credit card transaction takes eight seconds longer than a swipe transaction. Said Mr. Weinberg, U.S. consumers are more concerned with efficiency than security.
  2. Too Expensive: Some merchants, particularly small businesses, find the software for EMV machines too expensive, and that there was not sufficient time to migrate by Oct. 1, 2015, the EMV liability shift deadline for merchants.

A Three-Year Plan?

When Canada began EMV migration in 2008, it took about three years for the country to get to 80-90 percent of usage. Visa has publicly said that it expects consumer EMV use to be around 50 percent by the end of 2016.

Instabill Has EMV Machine Solutions

Instabill recently announced a new mobile EMV POS solution to its merchants and partners, and can also provide physical POS solutions to merchants. Speak with a live merchant account manager at 1-800-318-2713 or click the live chat button below to see about our options today.

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