EMV Explained: The Impact of the Liability Shift

EMV Explained: The Impact of the Liability Shift

There is an entire underground economy powered by stolen credit cards. With traditional magnetic stripe cards, a fraudster could simply obtain one, make copies using a cheap machine and hire people to go shopping. The credit card issuers (MasterCard, Discover, Amex and Visa) were liable for these unauthorized transactions, resulting in losses that exceeded $16 billion in 2014, according to WalletHub.

The staggering losses encouraged the card issuers to adopt new technology to fight fraud. Enter EMV.

EMV Explained: The Science of EMV Chip Cards

The U.S. was not a trailblazer when it adopted EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip cards. EMV cards have been the standard across much of the world and are proven to reduce fraudulent activity, according to Gemalto. For instance:

  • Card fraud fell by 33 percent in England when EMV was adopted in 2004.
  • Card theft and fraud dropped by over 91 percent in France when it moved to EMV in 2005.
  • Debit card losses fell by 73 percent when EMV was implemented in Canada in 2009.

Why is this the case? EMV explained simply boils down to technology.

EMV cards are equipped with computer chips for transaction authentication. When a chip card is inserted into a terminal, a unique code is created that can only be used once. The code is sent to the cardholder’s bank, which authenticates the transaction. In contrast, when a traditional magnetic stripe card is swiped, the same data is used each time, making card duplication possible.

Traditionally, fraud losses were passed onto the banks that issued the credit cards. But, with the introduction of this new chip card technology, card issuers took the opportunity to incentivize credit card terminal upgrades and reduce their fraud burden.

EMV Liability Shift Brings Businesses Into the Fold

Starting in October 2015, card issuers declared that businesses would be responsible for fraudulent losses from EMV chip cards that were stolen or counterfeited. EMV-ready terminals would flag these transactions as such.

EMV adoption has been slow among merchants for two reasons. First, EMV-ready terminals are expensive, costing anywhere from $500 to $1,000 according to CreditCards.com. Second, many businesses that have EMV-ready terminals still can’t accept these payments because their Merchant Account Providers aren’t EMV certified.

Merchants that are slow to upgrade make themselves vulnerable to two types of chargebacks: bank initiated and customer initiated.

Cardholders’ banks are automatically issuing chargebacks for transactions when a chip card is swiped instead of inserted. These bank-initiated chargebacks are issued without the cardholder's knowledge, even if they approve the transaction, so businesses are at risk of chargebacks every time they swipe chip cards.

Fraudsters are targeting businesses that have yet to make the switch to EMV-ready terminals since they don’t have the technology to detect a counterfeit chip card. The longer that businesses wait to adopt EMV technology, the higher the chance they’ll be targeted.

Protection From EMV Liability Shift Losses

PayJunction provides free Smart Terminals to qualifying businesses, so upgrading costs nothing out of pocket. We’re also EMV Level 3 certified, so our customers can accept EMV payments upon installing our terminal.

Our Smart Terminal accepts EMV chip card transactions, traditional magnetic stripe cards, and mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. If a customer swipes a chip card, the monitor prompts her to insert the card instead, eliminating any chance of improper EMV processing.

Additionally, because the Smart Terminal is cloud-controlled, businesses reduce the scope of PCI. PayJunction handles that for you, meaning so cardholder data is secure and your business is protected from the ramifications of the EMV liability shift.

Get a free Smart Terminal! Call a specialist today at 888-444-3422.

Has your business been hit by a bank-initiated chargeback? Are you currently able to accept EMV chip card transactions? Let us know about your experiences with this new technology in the comments section below.

About Christina Lavingia

Christina is the marketing manager for PayJunction. She oversees editorial voice and style across departments.