The proliferation of technology is changing the way local merchants operate. In terms of payment processing, consumers now have the ability to complete a transaction in more ways than one, which highlights the need for retailers, restaurants and other local businesses to comply with these demands.


However, not all small-business owners understand the importance of upgrading payment technology. Either that, or they're simply unaware of what's changing and how a lack of action can negatively impact their business. Merchant service providers have to consult and educate their small-business clients, otherwise they won't be looked upon as a trusted partner. What makes a merchant provider important, and relevant, in a particular industry is whether or not personnel know what's best for their clients. The very basis for that concept is born from whether or not merchant service providers know their product and the payment's industry in general. 


Features of certain products may sound nice, but merchant providers have to know and understand how these features will be of benefit to the client. Merchants must build trust for their customers. The first step in building this trust is explaining how a small business may be hurting itself if it fails to comply with business and technology changes in the payments industry and prioritize payment security.


EMV: What to look out for
Merchant providers will likely already know about the upcoming liability shift in October. However, small-business owners may be unaware. It's critical merchant services explain the liability shift and how a lack of compliance can leave a merchant financially responsible for a potential data breach. If the fear of capital damages isn't enough to secure an upgrade, merchants can let prospective clients know how much of their competition is upgrading to EMV-compliant terminals.


A recent Mercator Advisory Group study found 58 percent of credit cards and 26 point-of-sale terminals will be EMV-compliant by the end of 2015. Improving customer security is a great way for merchants to use as a market differentiator.


Merchants are rightfully concerned with implementation costs and consumer experience. While costs will impact a small business on a case-by-case basis, merchants do have control over how they manage the customer experience at the point of sale. While chip-based card transactions may increase time at the point of sale, EMV-capable terminals allow for Near-Field Communication (NFC) alternative payments, most notably in the form of Apple Pay. Mobile contactless transactions, while equally as secure as chip-and-signature and chip-and-PIN transactions, give customers another option to make a payment.


EMV is not the one-stop solution to eliminating security threats, though. Payment's security is a much bigger issue. Merchants must take a layered approach to their data protection. For instance, an upgrade to EMV-compliant terminals, encryption and tokenization services will be the beneficiary of reduced PCI-compliance costs in addition to reducing their liability in the event of a breach. While merchants may balk at an initial upgrade investment, they can save large sums on the back end by improving payment security for card-present transactions.