The Future of Pump Payments

Credit/debit-card fraud liability shifts as the chip-card deadline nears
EMV chip card at gasoline pump
Photograph: Shutterstock

ATLANTA — The mandated deadline for fuel retailers to switch to EMV chip readers at the pump is approaching fast. As it stands now, after April 16, fuel retailers—not card issuers such as Visa or Mastercard—will be footing the bill for card fraud committed at pumps without EMV readers.

While many have used the five and a half years since the mandate was issued to install EMV readers or are in the process of complying, 31% of c-stores have not upgraded a single pump, according to the Fall 2020 Conexxus EMV Survey. With the deadline fast approaching, here are the nuts and bolts of the new liability rules, how to achieve compliance and how to use the EMV upgrade to boost value and even revenue.

What Is EMV Compliance?

EMV, originally an acronym for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, is a microchip payment technology that makes paying with credit and debit cards safer and more secure than just using a card’s magnetic strip. EMV card users insert their card’s chip at the point-of-sale (POS) and a one-time code is generated for the transaction, making it more difficult for data thieves to steal consumers’ card information.

As a new industry standard, it was mandated that fuel retailers must be able to accept EMV chip cards by April. If not, retailers will be liable—through fines and associated costs—for fraudulent EMV credit- or debit-card activity that occurs at their pumps.

Additionally, retailers risk a hit to their reputation if consumers learn that their credit- and debit-card information is not safe at certain stores’ pumps.

Gimme 3 Steps

Here’s a high-level look at the three steps to achieving compliance at the pump:

  1. Many vendors have compliant solutions. Contact your payment processor and POS provider and take stock of how many points of sale cannot accept EMV chip cards.
  2. Update your hardware to ensure all credit-card terminals can accept EMV chip cards.
  3. Then upgrade your POS system and software to be compliant as well. Forward-thinking retailers are using the change as an opportunity to not only meet these bare industry requirements but also to enhance their forecourts to boost their value for consumers.

Pump Up the Value

The liability shift and necessary hardware and software modernization open a world of new possibilities for fuel retailers to engage more with consumers at the pump and bring in more revenue at the end of the day.

Take outdoor ads for example. During the few minutes that fuel customers are waiting for their tank to fill up, they are essentially captive audiences. A growing number of retailers are using outdoor payment terminals that can show digital advertisements to waiting consumers, encouraging them to come into the store to buy more than just fuel.

Taking things even further, progressive retailers are offering order-at-the-pump foodservice capabilities. Instead of making the trip into the store, an employee brings items out to a waiting car. This is a service consumers will continue to appreciate in today’s socially distanced environment.

Forward-thinking retailers are using the change as an opportunity.

Retailers should also consider offering contactless payment options at their pumps. Think mobile apps to allow consumers to pay for fuel and store items from their phone.

Last, but certainly not least, retailers should not be afraid to promote your compliance to consumers. Consumers largely understand the added security of EMV transactions and will appreciate a retailer’s commitment to keeping their data secure.

Time is ticking as the April deadline approaches. To protect yourselves against the financial liability of fraud at the pumps, the time is now for retailers to upgrade to EMV-compliant transactions. Yes, it’s difficult to justify new expenses in the midst of a difficult economic time, but the investment will pay off for fuel retailers long-term.

David Wilkinson is president and general manager of NCR Retail. Reach him at david.wilkinson@ncr.com. Click here to review all of CSP’s EMV deadline and credit/debit-card reports.

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