With the EMV chip-and-pin credit and debit card liability shift approaching, most independent sales organizations may assume that merchants and their customers are aware of the changes taking place by now considering the shift is about six months away. However, most small-business owners and consumers are not prepared for the EMV implementation set to take place this October.


As a trusted partner for merchants, ISOs are in a unique position to help foster public awareness about the upcoming shift in payment processing and point-of-sale systems. No one wants an EMV implementation to detract from customers' experiences and no business owners wish to see customers turned away because they can't complete a transaction.


Recently, The Wall Street Journal, citing research from Fiserv, reported that 51 percent of financial services customers explained they were completely unfamiliar with a chip or EMV card. David Keenan, general manager for network solutions at Fiserv, told The WSJ that he was taken aback by the news considering the effort that financial industry has put into ensuring the technology in place in commercial organizations will be compliant. Accordingly, Keenan suggested a consumer education policy should be put in place to ensure the more than 575 million chip-and-pin card expected to be delivered in October are used correctly.


On the other side of the equation, a sizable portion of small-business owners remain on the fence or lack knowledge about implementing EMV technology. Taking data from a recent American Express survey, Venture Beat explained that nearly 4 in 10 merchants currently don't plan on implementing a new POS systems to comply with the EMV standards or they aren't certain if they'll make the switch. According to the article, cost tends to play the biggest role in the decision-making process for small-business owners. The price tag associated with the upgrade may make the switch unfeasible in their eyes. The second largest reason they're unwilling to make the shift is lack of education about the benefits on implementation.


How to make merchants aware:
In many ways, it falls directly within the purview of ISOs to act as the stewards of the EMV implementation. Here are a few ways that they can start a knowledge campaign:


Be direct


  • Following the lead of credit card providers like Visa and MasterCard, ISOs can meet merchants in person to explain what the switch to EMV-enabled POS systems means and how it can be done. PaymentSource explained that Visa recently began a 20-city tour to educate both business owners and consumers about the implementation.Leverage digital tools
  • In addition to in-person events, which requires a significant amount of time, effort, manpower and financial resources, online educational resources can also prove to be useful. For instance, Visa is following up its tour with webinars hosted on its website dedicated to EMV chip cards.


Clarify the facts

  • It's important for ISOs to be clear about what may potentially happen if a merchant doesn't upgrade to an EMV-compliant terminals. After Oct. 15, 2015, business owners may be liable for fraudulent transactions if they haven't made the switch. Keeping in mind Javelin Strategy & Research found the costs of payment card fraud reached $11 billion in the U.S. in 2013, ISOs may want to make it a point to show the financial repercussions of noncompliance.


In addition, highlighting any available discounts to merchants who upgrade their terminals may help grease the wheels of change and make their businesses more secure.