EMV Certification Explained

EMV Certification Explained

Wondering what all the fuss is about with EMV certified terminals? Since the liability shift both providers and businesses have scrambled to obtain compliant equipment.

Designed to decrease fraud, the EMV terminal reads the unique, one-time code generated when a chip card is inserted. This is a distinct process, that requires a separate slot for inserting a chip card compared to the component used for swiping magstripe cards.

Ideally, it’s customer facing and can detect when a chip card is swiped, prompting the customer to insert the card instead. Proper EMV transaction processing protects businesses from bank-initiated chargebacks.

Simple enough, right? It’s actually not. Every terminal must go through extensive testing to become EMV certified. Let's get these levels of EMV explained.

EMV Level 1 Certification and Beyond

There are three levels of EMV certification:

  • Level 1 - Hardware: The physical terminal, logic and transmission of payments are tested.
  • Level 2 - Software Kernel: The software written to facilitate the transmission of payment information is tested.
  • Level 3 - Application: Each card brand is tested against the entire processing solution (components of level 1 and 2, plus the payment application).

EMVCo, which is composed of six member organizations (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Amex, JCB and UnionPay), manages and defines the specifications for each level and ultimately certifies equipment at just levels 1 and 2. To earn level 3 certification, the equipment must pass tests with each individual card brand.

If your business needs to use a payment application specific to your industry, level 3 certification gets a lot more complicated.

The Twist to EMV Certification

Any non-generic, custom-payment application, such as a point-of-sale system, is held to the same testing standards as a generic payment application for EMV certification. The testing falls on the developer of the payment application, but can significantly hold up businesses that need an EMV certified terminal.

Wonder why so many businesses still swipe chip cards? It’s because companies are currently waiting up to one year for level 3 certification.

Palms sweating? Mind racing? Don’t stress. Even though EMV compliance is still a dream for most businesses, we have solutions available to you right now.

EMV Certified Solutions to Get Your Hands on

No matter your business needs, we have an EMV solution:

  • Level 3 EMV-Certified Smart Terminal - For businesses looking for a simple, intuitive payment application, our Smart Terminal is ideal. It communicates with our Virtual Terminal which logs all the transaction information that a traditional terminal would print out. Both proprietary to us, the pair streamlines your business workflow and covers your EMV needs.
  • Open API for Easy Integration - Non-generic payment applications are able to integrate with our software and equipment to pass testing for level 3 compliance. This eliminates the need for individual testing and speeds up the availability of EMV certified terminals to businesses using customized applications.

Don’t go another day without an EMV certified terminal simply because your provider or payment application isn’t certified. Take advantage of the quick solutions PayJunction offers and start accepting EMV today.

Get an EMV certified terminal today!


Has your business struggled to accept EMV chip cards? Have you had EMV explained to you without these certification details? Contribute to the discussion below, we'd love to hear from you!

About Ursula Librizzi

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