EMV Turned Two, Continues to Produce Frustration Among Consumers

Henry Helgeson

By Henry Helgeson, CEO and Co-Founder of Cayan

It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since U.S. retailers began accepting chip card payments. What started out as a mandate to avoid certain fraud liabilities, caused major headaches for both retailers and their customers. Shoppers either encountered checkouts that did not yet accept chip cards (often advertised via eyesore sticky notes fastened to the point of sale), or were forced to endure unreasonably long times while their chip card payments processed. As these waits – and lines – grew, retailers were losing money. We calculated that with upwards of 26.2 billion credit card transactions annually, businesses lost 116 million hours per year to slow EMV.

So now, at the two year anniversary, it would be natural to think that the problems facing EMV adoption and processing would have been resolved… sadly, no such luck. We recently conducted an independent study of 1,000 consumers and 500 small to midsize retailers about their experience with EMV, and were surprised to learn that merchants still have work to do to meet consumers’ expectations.

According to our new study, consumers continue to be frustrated for two principal reasons. The first: frustration. The majority of shoppers want to pay with their chip-enabled debit/credit cards and become irritated (naturally) when they find out they cannot. Our research also found that only two in three retailers currently accept EMV. What’s even more surprising is that despite the mandate, 38 percent of those retailers who do not accept EMV think it’s not necessary to do so. Whether the barrier is a matter of cost or the perception that implementation is too complex, the reality is that every merchant should now be EMV compliant – not only to avoid fraudulent chargebacks, but to also deliver a fast, simple and stress-free checkout experience that customers expect.

The second frustration: speed…or rather, the perceived lack of it. Despite the fact that chip card transaction speeds have generally improved (the average transaction takes around 11 seconds), our study found that shoppers still feel like it just still takes too long. Twenty-six percent of consumers estimate they wait half a minute or more for a transaction to complete, while another 22 percent report wait times of up to 20 seconds long. The fact is that no one likes to be made to wait – consumers have long memories and they are not willing to wait in line for what seems like an eternity. The next time they walk into a retailer where they’ve already had a bad experience and they see a long line, they may turn right around and walk out.

But what surprised us even further in our research, was the fact that most retailers appear relatively unconcerned by this. Seventy-six percent of them claim to be “mildly to not at all frustrated” by the fact that their chip card transactions are taking so long.

Although there’s a clear disconnect between what retailers think is acceptable and what consumers want, there’s still an opportunity for merchants to accelerate their EMV systems before it begins to negatively affect the upcoming holiday shopping season. Making speedier EMV processing a high priority could make the difference between a positive and a frustrating customer experience.

About the Author

As CEO and Co-Founder of Cayan™, Henry Helgeson is responsible for driving the future vision of the company, ensuring that Cayan remains at the forefront of payments innovation. Determined to find a lower cost solution for small businesses, Helgeson launched Cayan (formerly Merchant Warehouse) in 1998, the first company to provide easily accessible and affordable credit card processing services and equipment. He led the launch of Genius®, an industry-leading payment technology platform that now powers payment acceptance at thousands of leading retailers and businesses throughout the U.S., and he continues to drive expansion of the Genius platform as well as new product offerings and value-adds. Helgeson is involved in numerous industry associations and is an active member of the Electronic Transactions Association’s (ETA’s) Mobile Payments Committee.

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