10 point smartcard checklist for merchants

Just about a year from now, retail merchants who currently accept only magnetic stripe payment cards will have to start accepting chip-based smart cards as well.

00 title smartcard checklist

Checklist for merchants

Just about a year from now, retail merchants who currently accept only magnetic stripe payment cards will have to start accepting chip-based smart cards as well. If they don't, they become liable for any fraud that results from them not being able to accept the chip cards.

The name for the new card standard is EMV -- Europay, MasterCard and Visa -- named after the companies who first initiated the technology. The US is the last major country in the world to switch over.

EMV cards are more secure than magnetic stripe cards because of the built-in chip. Instead of simply reading data off a card's magnetic stripe, payment terminals actually interact with the chip on the card to ensure that it's authentic. This makes chip-based cards extremely difficult to clone. The following is a checklist for merchants about to switch over to EMV.

01 expert

Designate an in-house EMV expert or program owner

This person can serve as the central figure of the project, be the point of contact for internal and external participants, manage the costs and time frame of the project, and coordinate the work.

With the right person in charge, the transition to EMV will go more efficiently and smoothly.

02 aligned

Confirm that your vendors are aligned with your EMV roadmap

This applies to your point of sale providers or the value-added resellers that sell integrated solutions and services. The sooner you catch any potential problems, the better the odds that you'll be able to correct them. Check that they can help you with the planning, and the migration as well.

03 point of sale

Check that your hardware supports all payment types

That means that the point of sale terminal you will be using supports contact cards, contactless or NFC cards, as well as traditional magnetic stripe cards. During the transition period in particular, there will continue to be customers with magnetic stripe cards.

In addition, check that you will have support for the payment wallet that you've decided to go with, or with the leading players in the space.

04 checklist

Check that your system has all necessary approvals

That includes EMV Level 1 approval which covers the physical interface between the card reader and the card, the EMV Level 2 approval which covers the software interface, EMV Contactless, and the PCI PIN Transaction Security requirements.


The PCI PIN Transaction Security in particular expire within six years. So, for example, devices approved under PCI PTS Version 1 back in 2008 when the standard was in use, expired earlier this year.

05 desert warehouse

Ensure the ability to remotely manage

In particular, some peripherals might not support remote management, which would create problems down the line as well as making initial configuration more difficult.

06 calendar months

Check that your EMV migration dates are in line with the key compliance deadlines

That includes the October 2015 date for the fraud liability shift some transactions, the October 2016 liability shift for MasterCard ATMs, the October 2017 shift for Visa ATMs, and the October 2017 liability shift for automated fuel dispensers. Include enough time for to allow for the required testing.

07 stamp of approval

Check that you have received your end to end certification process from them

End to end certification is different for each credit card network, and is separate from the EMV Level 1 and Level 2 certification which it requires as a prerequisite.

08 stack of credit cards

Check that you have all the test tools that you need

For example, do you have EMV cards to run your tests with?

09 training classroom

Develop a training program for your personnel

While getting training for the sales clerks, don't forget your security staffers either, since the EMV cards, while reducing some risks, will not instantly eliminate all possible security concerns.

Training will be particularly important if you're waiting until the last minute to switch over, since the big holiday shopping season begins shortly afterwards. You don't want clerks struggling to figure out how to process the new cards with a long line of shoppers waiting.

In particular, if you opt for chip-and-signature cards, clerks shouldn't ease back on checking signatures just because the card has a smart chip in it.

10 handing over credit card

Train your staff to understand the changes in consumer behavior at the POS and dispel myths

Customers might be annoyed at having to learn a new payment method, or get confused about how to use their new cards. And scammers might use the appearance of confusion to distract from theft or other illegal behavior.

ALSO: 12 security problems that EMV and tokenization won't solve

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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