Debunking the Excuses Not to Be EMV-Compliant

Or how to keep costs down when upgrading your pumps
cardless payments
Photograph: Shutterstock

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As we get closer to the EMV liability shift deadline of April 2021, I wanted to provide some guidance and education around the top concerns from station owners. These are some points from surveys, webinars and inquiries received from fuel retailers about what continues to hold them back from upgrading their pumps to support chip-card acceptance.

Excuse No. 1: It’s too expensive to upgrade for chip-card acceptance.

Cost as a top concern is the most common concern I have heard. To really dive into this issue, I want to shed some light on what it could mean if a station doesn’t upgrade its pumps. It is easy to get cardholder data online and make a fake credit or debit card to match. The amount of fraud targeting outdoor fuel dispensers is expected to hit more than $450 million this year. Today that burden is placed on the financial institutions. Come April 2021, station owners will become responsible for that financial burden. With the easy options for pump upgrades, there is no reason for stations to be put in this position. If you do not have an chip reader, you will lose chargeback requests every time. Even if you have a video of a skimmer signing for a charge, the station owner will be liable under the new mandate.

With margins low on fuel, the financial implications could be huge. It will only take a few chargebacks on the fillup of large SUVs to wipe out your profits for the day.

If expense is your concern, a retrofit solution may be right for you. They can be completed for half or even one-third of the average cost of a full pump replacement. Here are some things to consider about the retrofit option:

  1. Some pump companies have retrofit kits for some of their new pumps, and typically, they are pretty expensive because those companies really want you to purchase new pumps.
  2. You can purchase a new non-EMV pump and add a retrofit kit to it for much less money.
  3. You can purchase a used pump and add EMV to it for even less money.
  4. You can purchase a retrofit kit from a third party for a lot less money and use your existing pumps.

The bottom line is that there are lower-cost options that are worth the money when you consider the consequence of not upgrading could put your station out of business.

Excuse No. 2: There are so few software vendors.

The good news is that there are more and more vendors coming to market with cost-effective options. More of a concern than a lack of software vendors is a lack of installers. Waiting until the last minute to arrange installation could put you at risk of missing the deadline. The number of field technicians qualified for installing new solutions is finite, and as the mandate gets closer, their schedules are filling up, leaving those who wait out in the cold.

If you are considering a retrofit, there are a few important points to consider when evaluating a vendor:

  1. Does the vendor use a semi-integrated solution at the pump or does it require a fully integrated solution?
  2. Does it use WiFi communication so you don’t need to break up concrete and lay new cable?
  3. Does the solution allow for easier scalability? Can you plan for the future as part of your investment?
  4. Regarding security, is the new software tamper resistant? Does it use end-to-end (E2E) encryption or point-to-point (P2P)? That is, is card data encrypted at the point of entry?

Excuse No. 3: I can’t close my station for weeks at a time.

If you are planning a full pump replacement, then you will have some down time, especially if it involves the pumps and tanks. A retrofit can allow you to upgrade one pump at a time. Either way (pump replacement or retrofit), upgrading is well worth it because the consequence could mean a station closing its doors forever rather than just a few weeks. 

Excuse No. 4: I don’t want to upgrade all of my pumps at once.

A good semi-integrated, retrofit solution that enables EMV-compliance at the pump can get the job done for you in a matter of hours through a pump-by-pump implementation process so you don’t need to shut the station down. These new solutions also provide new technology, such as enhanced security (PCI and end-to-end encryption), QR code scanning, PIN-on-glass, EMV chip and PIN and contactless payment via card tap or near field communication (NFC) contact such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

New systems use the cloud to adhere to internal systems and interfaces with standard industry protocols. Deployment and industry strategy ensures a seamless transition and minimizes downtime by phasing deployment while also giving the option to temporarily run the old and new system simultaneously.

Excuse No. 5: I might have to upgrade or replace my POS system.

It is true that most solutions are an “all or nothing upgrade.” And if there are issues, it’s difficult to roll back to the previous working state. This is an additional cost, and it can be difficult to undo and/or resolve issues that can occur during traditional upgrade. The challenge for stations is to ensure the attended POS system works with their unattended pay-at-the-pump solution, and they both work with the forecourt controller.

If this is a concern, you will most definitely want to consider a retrofit solution that works with your existing pumps and forecourt controller and will allow you to upgrade one pump at a time.

Making a Decision

There’s no doubt there are a lot of factors to consider when upgrading fuel pumps. I encourage you to make the decision sooner than later and move forward. If you wait to the last minute, you may have a problem getting your solution implemented by the April deadline, which will put your business at risk.

Bill Pittman is senior vice president of Sound Payments Petro Solutions, Jacksonville, Fla. Reach him at petrosales@soundpayments.com or (844) 319-5635.

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