Expert Insight: The Real EMV Risk

Are gasoline retailers asking the wrong question about upgrading fuel pumps?

By 
Richard Browne, Vice President, Marketing, Patriot Capital Corp.

30% of gasoline buyers are security conscious

ATLANTA -- Though the deadline for EMV upgrades at gas pumps is still two years away, many fuel marketers and convenience-store owners across the United States are already analyzing whether the benefits of upgrading their fuel-dispensing equipment to meet this standard is worth the cost to do so.

The pivot point for most discussions is the severity of the liability shift, in particular: How much cost and risk would a retailer incur if they choose not to acquire EMV-compatible equipment? I believe, however, there is another danger that has both a higher probability and a greater potential financial impact. This is the risk of share loss to EMV-enabled competitors.

Though one of the last countries globally to adopt EMV (standards set by Europay, MasterCard and Visa), the United States will begin to catch up this fall, when the October 2015 point-of-sale liability shift compels many retailers to make the change at traditional retail outlets.

This means that in the U.S., consumers will have two-years-plus of EMV experience prior to the October 2017 liability shift at the gas pump. By then, it is likely that security conscious customers, who, according to most estimates, make up between 30% and 60% of the shopping public, will have altered their shopping habits to take advantage of EMV-secured locations.

The potential for share loss was highlighted in a front-page story in theWall Street Journal on Sept. 4 stating, “many gas stations will be among the last merchants to install equipment accepting a new generation of fraud-resistant cards.”

 “In global markets that have adopted EMV payment, Gilbarco has seen consumers seek out EMV-enabled dispensers and shift their fueling to locations that they believe to be more secure,” Parker Burke, director of payment and marketing applications at Gilbarco Veeder-Root, told me. “Consumer EMV awareness and adoption will accelerate as broad retail converts through the balance of 2015, and consumers will start seeking out convenience stores that offer EMV security.”

Data from other global markets confirms Burke's belief. In many countries, “early movers” for both EMV adoption and promotion have seen share increases in both gallons and in-store sales.

 Adding to fuel marketers’ concerns is the wide early adoption expected among retailers who offer fuel as an added traffic generating service: grocers, warehouse clubs, and multi-state c-store retailers with private-label fuel and a focus on foodservice.

If we accept estimates that EMV adoption will constitute just half of fueling sites by 2018, that would still make it easy for already-fickle consumers to find an EMV-enabled option at a nearby corner.

Of course, manufacturers, including Gilbarco, Verifone and Wayne, anticipated the increased demand and have scaled production accordingly. Orders for Gilbarco’s Applause TV offering doubled in June of this year, according to a recent CSP Daily News article. Market intelligence suggests that a much greater percentage of this equipment is going to the types of sites mentioned above--grocery, big box and QSR-focused private brands--than to traditional c-stores and gas stations.

If we can agree that the question on the table is not if, but when, you will upgrade your pumps to EMV, there are two additional factors to consider:

CONTINUED: The Cost of Waiting to Implement EMV

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Richard Browne, Patriot Capital Corp. By Richard Browne, Vice President, Marketing, Patriot Capital Corp.
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