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Get Ahead: How to Equip Your Business for Chip-Embedded Credit Cards

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Rostislav_Sedlacek

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Rostislav_Sedlacek

Times, they are a-changin’, Biz Philly readers. With more than 575 million credit and debit cards embedded with EMV chip technology (that stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the original companies behind the standard) expected to be in consumers’ wallets by the end of the year, merchants need to start planning so they will be ready at the checkout counter to accept them.

Why the switch? Chip cards have the potential to greatly reduce counterfeit fraud and should help make consumers feel more confident about using their payment cards to make purchases. 

The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to ease the transition for local businesses (including this online toolkit that Visa developed for merchants). And the experts over at Beneficial have rounded up eight smart, practical strategies to implement when preparing for EMV. Here, your need-to-know steps:

Step 1: Meet With Your Card Processor
To start your migration to chip technology, it is important to meet with your acquirer or card processor who can help you set your plans in motion. There may be opportunities to streamline existing processes, upgrade your payments infrastructure, add new services and improve customer service.

Step 2: Assess Your Current Merchant Environment
The assessment should include a detailed understanding of the payments hardware and software your business relies on, payment data processing flow, and the financial resources available, among other key pieces of info. Many smaller businesses likely have a terminal that has a slot for chip cards and they don’t know it; they will simply need to work with their processor to activate it. So, visually inspect your terminal to find out.

Step 3: Initiate and Review Internal Plans
Once the project team has a clearer picture of what’s needed in the organization, it’s time to start developing a roadmap for implementation. Sketch out a timetable for key decisions on terminal hardware and software options, system requirements and other needs.

Step 4: Finalize Your Chip Implementation Decisions
Meet as a project team to finalize a number of key decisions on the implementation process. Among the key questions you might need to consider is whether your point-of-sale terminals and software can be upgraded or need to be replaced, whether PIN pad devices are needed, and whether there are stakeholders with whom you should partner.

Step 5: Work With Selected Stakeholder Partners
After finalizing your decisions, it’s important that you keep your organization abreast of key project milestones. It is recommended that you hold a kickoff meeting with the internal chip implementation team to review the final decision regarding stakeholder partners, equipment decisions, and the overall direction and cost of the project. Then, plan to hold another meeting that brings together both internal and external stakeholders in order to make sure everyone is on board.

Step 6: Test Your System
Visa requires that merchants test their terminals to ensure they are ready to accept the new chip cards, and then have the results of the test entered into the Chip Compliance Reporting tool by the acquirer, processor or another approved vendor.

Step 7: Train Your Staff
The shift to chip technology from traditional magnetic stripe cards should not be a big deal to most consumers, but merchants should anticipate needing to provide some education at the start. Instead of swiping their card, shoppers will need to insert it into the new chip card terminals and leave it there until the transaction is finished.

Step 8: Perform Pilot Store Installation
Install the required software and hardware in a pilot store and monitor the results for at least 30 days. You’ll also want to get feedback from your sales staff on the frontlines and check-in with your acquirer, processor and other stakeholders to make sure things are going smoothly on their end.

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