Transaction with credit or debit card
What you need to know about the transition to EMV chip cards. 


How does it affect my business?

As of October 1, 2015*, if you do not have an EMV chip-compatible machine, you (instead of the card issuer) will be liable for any fraud that takes place on your machine. In other words: the liability will shift to whichever party is least EMV-compliant in a fraudulent transaction.

There are no fines associated with non-acceptance of EMV cards, only liability for transactions.


What is EMV?

EMV stands for the three major card issuers of Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, and is a more secure way of accepting credit card payments than the traditional magnetic strip. EMV cards contain a computer chip visible on the front of the card.

How are EMV cards used?

When EMV cards are presented to a merchant, and the merchant has an EMV-compatible machine, the card is inserted into the reader and stays there until the transaction is complete. 

Some EMV cards also support contactless reading, also known as near field communication (NFC). NFC cards are tapped against a terminal that can pick up the data from the chip. Contactless payment is likely a feature that all cards will have in the future, and merchants will be expected to have a compatible terminal for.

Why is the US switching to EMV cards?

EMV cards have been used in Europe since the 1990s. In light of numerous large-scale data breaches and increasing card fraud, US card issuers are migrating to protect consumers and reduce costs of fraud. Millions of chip cards have already been issued in the US.

How is it safer?

Traditional magnetic strips contain unchanging data, so whoever accesses the data gains information to make purchases until the fraud is spotted.

But EMV cards contain an embedded computer chip that creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again.

How does EMV help my business?

  • More robust card authentication to protect against counterfeit cards
  • Cardholder verification to protect against lost/stolen cards
  • Fewer fraud-related chargebacks from stolen/skimmed cards
  • Greater peace of mind for customers

If I don't have an EMV terminal, will I still be able to accept credit cards after October 1*?

Yes ... for the time being. Currently cards are being made with both the magnetic stripe and the computer chip, but eventually the stripe will be phased out. Plan to get an EMV compatible machine as soon as possible to not be liable for fraud AND maintain customers.

*EMV Timeline for Liability Shifts

Not all card retailers are shifting liability at the same time. See timeline below:

  • October 1, 2015  (Discover)/October 15, 2015 (VISA/Mastercard/Discover/American Express) – Merchant shift - fraud liability shifts to those with lesser technology (except gas station retailers)
  • October 1, 2016 (Mastercard) – ATM fraud liability shifts to US cardholders
  • October 1, 2017  (VISA) – ATM fraud liability shifts to US cardholders
  • October 1, 2017  (Discover)/October 15, 2017 (Mastercard/VISA/Discover/American Express) – fraud liability shifts to gas station retailers

Read Elavon's EMV: What Your Business Needs to Know (PDF).


What do I need to do next?

A range of EMV solutions (including countertop terminals, long- and short-range wireless terminals, and consumer-facing PIN pads) are available to meet your needs. 



Insert or Dip : Instead of swiping a card, cardholders insert/dip their chip card into an EMV-enabled terminal

Chip & pin : EMV cards are commonly referred to as "chip and PIN" because the chip card is often coupled with a PIN code for security

Chip & signature : EMV cards can also be referred to as "chip and signature" because some chip cards are coupled with a signature for security

Fraud liability shift : On October 1, 2015, counterfeit fraud liability, which has traditionally been assumed by the card issuer, will be assumed by any party that does not enable EMV

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