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e-Publication

03 October 2011

The US sees the light

It has taken years of debate, arguments and belligerence on both sides, but for those in the payment industry who have urged the US to make the move towards EMV, the decision by Visa to finally go ahead with EMV implementation is a massive victory, and looks set to bring about the global payment standardisation that everyone has been urging.

Pressure has been building in recent months for the US to fall into step with the rest of the world and global issuers with experience of EMV in other markets, such as Citi and Chase, have already announced plans to roll out small-scale EMV-enabled card programmes, indicating that US issuers have run out of patience with their network partners. But it would be a mistake to think that the networks and wider industry are reluctant participants. Indeed, the US move to EMV is not so much about cutting fraud levels and having global standards in place, but is aimed at capitalising on the burgeoning interest in mobile payments – something we have covered extensively in PCM in recent issues.

However, proponents of EMV still need to be mindful that the US payment landscape is starkly different from those of Europe and elsewhere, and if they are expecting an overnight transformation, they will be disappointed. In the US, the consumer is king, which is reflected by the multitude of ATM networks to choose from, the vast array of issuing institutions and powerful merchant groups. Aligning all these different segments and persuading them to adopt EMV will by no means be an easy task, not to mention the infrastructure challenges of overhauling millions of POS and ATM terminals to conform with the EMV standard.

The danger is that merchant groups in particular will resist the move on the grounds of cost. Already emboldened by their success in influencing interchange legislation in the US, merchant groups there are in no mind to roll over easily, which makes it all the more important for industry stakeholders to present a united front, and to collaborate in order to present the business case for EMV in an effective manner.

Payments Cards & Mobile



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