Security Scrutiny

EMV adoption cause for concern at mobile-retailing conference

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Bill Deichler

ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- Retailers facing compliance mandates on Euro MasterCard Visa or "EMV" requirements expressed deep concerns over costs versus benefits at a mobile-retailing conference held this week.

With credit-card companies forcing upgrades to in-store point-of-sale (POS) registers by October 2015, retailers and technology vendors on a five-person panel spoke of equipment costs, questionable return on investment and the capability of current technology as key issues.

"My gut feeling is that EMV is an old technology that will be refined and improved upon by the time it will be implemented," said Bill Deichler, manager of payment methods for Murphy Oil, El Dorado, Ark.

Deichler and four other panelist said that while the deadline exists, issues such as the effectiveness of current technology against the growing sophistication of data thieves was a concern, giving many retailers pause when considering the investment.

EMV is a payment method involving a computer chip embedded in a plastic payment card, with most POS registers in the United States needing upgrades to read those cards. The technology is currently deployed in other parts of the world, mostly in Canada and European countries.

The panelists, speaking before a general session of about 600 attendees, raised other issues:

  • Upgrade costs on in-store POS with no viable return on investment.
  • Concerns over EMV deadlines for card readers in dispensers, and how a 2017 deadline for those devices could cost the fuel retailers millions of dollars.
  • The availability of equipment and the expertise to install the upgrades as deadlines draw near.
  • The potential of the deadlines being pushed back, which is a possibility given the demands of the credit-card company mandates.
  • Upgrading devices without knowing the true future of mobile payment. Dee O'Malley, senior director of payment acceptance, Best Buy, Minneapolis, said, "If I'm going to raise the hood as it were, I've got to do as much as I can. I don't want to raise it again later."

Ultimately, O'Malley and the other panelists agreed that EMV will have the benefit of reducing fraud and that all retailers need to be aware of the requirements and stipulated deadlines. "But there is no carrot with EMV," she said.

In its second year, the RAMP conference is presented by the New York-based Morrissey Group, offering an educational platform covering mobile applications at retail. RAMP looks at emerging payment models and platforms including merchant coalitions, mobile wallets and how retailers are leveraging mobile and digital to enhance the customer experience. Other topics include how retailers are moving towards omni-channel platforms, how to mobilize in-store staff as well as manage mobility in the enterprise, how to tie front-end applications to back-end operations and how to manage "big data."

"Mobile is blowing up in our face right now," Deichler said. "This helps us to make informed, qualified decisions."

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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