EMV Is Here. Is Your Business Ready?

A significant change to credit and debit card payments is underway. High-profile card data compromises have driven the U.S. payments market to move to EMV technology. EMV chip cards — credit and debit cards containing a microchip that makes in-person payments significantly more secure — are designed to prevent card data from being copied and used to create counterfeit cards. They are becoming the standard for in-person card transactions.


Peter Forbes, head of the Corporate Business Unit at Worldpay, which through its collaboration with Citizens Bank provides payment processing solutions under the name Citizens Bank Merchant Services, explains what business owners need to know about accepting these new cards and how they will benefit from the shift.

What is EMV, and why is the U.S. shifting to this standard now?

Forbes: EMV is a global payment standard for credit and debit card payments. The letters stand for Europay, Mastercard® and Visa®, which developed the standard. EMV is much more secure than magnetic stripe payments, and because of this, it is already in place in many countries. As the world shrinks and more people travel, card issuers, merchants, and acquirers here wanted to protect the U.S. against fraud migrating from other parts of the world, since fraud typically migrates to areas that are less secure.

How do chip cards make transactions more secure?

Forbes: When a chip card is inserted into an EMV terminal, the chip interacts with a reader within the device. The card then generates a cryptogram, or code, that is unique to that specific transaction. If that information was captured during the sale, the cryptogram could not be used for subsequent transactions on that card. This is unlike traditional magnetic stripe cards, in which customer data is stored right on the stripe and is much easier to access.

Are businesses required to accept chip cards?

Forbes: There is no mandate for businesses to adopt EMV. The changeover will likely continue through the next couple of years. There is, however, a shift in liability for fraudulent transactions, which went into effect on October 1, 2015. The party using the least secure technology is now liable for fraudulent misuse of cards. For example, if a merchant is presented a chip card but swipes it through a magnetic stripe reader, that merchant is liable if that transaction proves to be fraudulent. However, if the parties are using an equal level of security — a chip card and a chip reader, for instance — the card issuer is liable, as it was before the shift.


Think of deploying EMV like buying a burglar alarm. Just as thieves will look for a less secure target, fraud will concentrate in weaker parts of the payments ecosystem. This means businesses without EMV-capable terminals will ultimately be forced to add this protection.

Aside from protection from liability for fraudulent transactions, how will businesses benefit from accepting chip cards?

Forbes: Consumers want businesses to take security seriously. Evidence from around the world proves cardholders regard chip card readers as more secure than magnetic stripe readers and may even prefer businesses that have deployed them. The implementation of new devices and payment technologies, such as Apple PayTM and Samsung PayTM, also stresses the importance of accepting contactless transactions. EMV can act as a secure launchpad for the next generation of payments.

What do businesses need to do in order to begin accepting chip cards?

Forbes: Most will need to upgrade or replace their card terminals, if they haven’t done so already. For the vast majority of businesses, this is relatively straightforward. Many merchant services providers, including Citizens Bank Merchant Services, have been providing EMV-capable terminals for the past couple of years. After a software update that was released this year, our customers are now ready to accept EMV payments. Businesses should reach out to their account manager or business banking professional with questions and to learn exactly what is required.

EMV does not protect online transactions. What steps should businesses take to keep these transactions secure?

Forbes: Businesses that sell online should upgrade the fraud protection solutions on their websites. Online fraud has become an easier target worldwide, as EMV has made in-person fraud much harder to carry out. Businesses with an online presence should consider steps such as adding fraud-protection systems or tokenization, which replaces sensitive information, such as card data, with a string of meaningless characters. Citizens Bank Merchant Services has specialists working on this, and we are in a strong position to help.

More information

We are committed to helping your business succeed. Our dedicated business banking professionals can help you find the right product to match your business’ needs. To learn more about Citizens Bank Merchant Services, please call 1-800-428-7463, visit us online, or visit your nearest Citizens Bank Branch.


Payments powered by Worldpay. Worldpay US, Inc., is a registered ISO/MSP of Citizens Bank, N.A. Worldpay, the logo and any associated brand names are trademarks of the Worldpay group of companies.


Mastercard is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Incorporated. Apple and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Samsung Pay is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.