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What Is EMV Credit Card Processing?

What Is EMV Credit Card Processing?
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EMV credit card processing entails a series of steps to authenticate a payment by ‘dipping’ or ‘inserting’ an EMV-chip card. To correctly process an EMV credit card, a level-3 EMV certified card reader is required.

To achieve proper EMV credit card processing, you must take a number of pre-transaction steps. Depending on your role in the payment process, these steps may be extensive or non-existent.

EMV Credit Card Processing Preparation

Merchant Service Providers

A Merchant Service Provider is an organization that issues individual merchant accounts to businesses processing credit cards. Typically, a provider will also offer the equipment needed to process in-person transactions.

When EMV was rolled out in the United States, new and existing Merchant Service Providers had to go through a substantial EMV-certification process. With three levels to achieve, months of testing to undergo and tens of thousands of dollars to invest, Merchant Service Providers face difficult preparation for EMV credit card processing.

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Payment Integrators

Any non-generic, custom-payment application, such as an e-commerce shopping cart, is held to the same EMV-certification process as Merchant Service Providers that offer generic payment solutions. The payment application developer typically owns testing for certification, which can significantly delay product launch.

Integrators can make use of payment APIs to enable EMV credit card processing without the hassle of certification. This allows them to offer users an EMV-certified payment solution that’s integrated into its interface.


From a business’s perspective, preparation for EMV credit card processing is essentially non-existent. The perk of working with a Merchant Service Provider or using a payment-integrated application is that they do all the hard work for you.

Unlike providers and integrators, your preparation as a business involves only one step: Making sure your card reader is capable of proper EMV credit card processing. Sounds easy enough, but EMV compliance is still a dream for many businesses because their current providers have yet to achieve compliance. Without a fully functioning EMV card reader, you can pick up the bad habit of EMV fallback and put your business at risk of bank-initiated chargebacks.

6 Steps to EMV Credit Card Processing

Each EMV transaction goes through the following six-step process:

  1. An EMV card is inserted into an EMV-certified card reader by the cardholder to initiate authorization.
  2. The Merchant Service Provider shares the EMV transaction information with its Payment Processor.
  3. The processor shares the EMV transaction information with the Card Association Network.
  4. Via the network, the acquiring bank confirms with the issuing bank that sufficient funds or credit are available.
  5. Via the processor, the acquiring bank informs the provider whether the EMV transaction has been approved or declined.
  6. The EMV-certified card reader communicates a decline or approval.

From a business or cardholder perspective, EMV credit card processing is the same as traditional credit card processing, except for how the card is inserted into the card reader. As a business, you just need to do your homework to ensure the card reader you’re using is EMV-certified to do proper EMV credit card processing.

Ready to start your EMV credit card processing?There’s more to look for than just EMV.


What else do you want to know about EMV? We’re happy to answer your questions or point you to another blog.

About Author
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Ursula Librizzi

Ursula is the sales and marketing operations manager for PayJunction. She oversees daily marketing tasks and liaises between the sales and marketing departments.

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