What is EMV?
EMV refers to the global specifications that ensure interoperability of chip cards, POS terminals and ATMs for chip based transactions. Originally, EMV referred to the founding organizations from 1994—Europay, MasterCard and Visa—today the EMV trademark is owned by all of the equity owners of EMVCo: American Express, JCB, Discover, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa.

EMV is a global standard for credit and debit card processing designed to replace magnetic stripe cards. Also referred to as chip and PIN or chip and sign, this smart chip technology consists of a microprocessor embedded into payment cards and smart devices such as mobile phones.

Why the Switch to EMV?
EMV provides better protection from fraudulent activity such as skimming and the creation of counterfeit cards. In parts of the world where EMV has been implemented, there has been a significant reduction in incidents of fraud at the point of sale.

When did the EMV Liability Shift Occur in the United States?
On October 1, 2015 Visa and MasterCard have instituted a fraud liability shift policy, which transfers liability for certain types of fraudulent transactions away from the party that has the most secure form of EMV technology. Merchants can protect themselves from this liability by ensuring they have implemented an EMV compliant solution.

What Makes EMV More Secure?
Cardholder data resides in a secure chip embedded in a plastic payment card or personal device such as a mobile phone. Dynamic values exist within the chip itself that, when verified by the point-of-sale device, ensure the authenticity of the card. Fraudsters need physical access to the card and even then, the card itself is extremely difficult to clone, thus limiting any potential damage.

With traditional magnetic stripe cards, cardholder data that resides on the mag-stripe on the back of the card is static and can be easily skimmed and used to create counterfeit cards. The terminal performs all the processing and applies the rules for payment, which is not as secure.

How do EMV transactions work?
Instead of swiping the card and reading the less secure magnetic stripe, a chip card is inserted into the terminal and remains there until the transaction is complete. The terminal reads the encrypted chip to process the transaction. Once payment is approved, your customer just needs to sign the receipt.

For the time being, the majority of U.S. banks are issuing cards that require only a signature; however customers may be prompted to enter a PIN if they’ve completed this extra step with the card issuer. Both chip-and-signature and chip-and-PIN offer fraud prevention benefits.

What are the Differences between Chip & PIN and Chip & Signature?
Chip and PIN requires the cardholder to enter a four digit PIN (could be more digits), which must correspond to the chip embedded in their card. Chip and Signature requires the cardholder to sign in order to authorize the transaction.

While Chip and PIN is the more secure option, issuing banks in the U.S. will begin by providing their customers with Chip and Signature cards. An EMV terminal will still be required to read the chip.

How do I Know if I am EMV Compliant?
It depends on your terminal type and model, when it was acquired and who you are processing with. As your trusted partner, Pivotal Payments has years of real-world EMV implementation and support experience that can address your requirements. We offer multiple terminal types and configurations, depending on your exact business needs. Our turnkey EMV solutions are ready now. For a no-obligation free consultation, call 1-877-462-7486 or contact us online.


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