EMV Transition May Negatively Effect Holiday Shopping

Date: December 01, 2015

Tales Of Longer Checkout Times, Confusion Among Consumers Grow

As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, there are growing concerns about the potential negative effects of the transition to chip-enabled, or EMV, cards. Robin Sidel wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the unprecedented proliferation of so many payment methods at once – including EMV PIN and signature, dip and swipe, and mobile and wearables – has created much confusion for consumers amid uneven adoption of the technologies by merchants. One of the main potential frustrations for holiday shoppers and merchants alike is that the chip card transition is expected to lengthen checkout times. Sidel provided several personal accounts of shoppers who described their failed and sometimes embarrassing attempts to use chip cards, including Javelin Strategy & Research director of payments Michael Moeserby, who said he was startled by a buzzer when he left his card in the slot too long at Target.

While lines are always a reality of shopping during the holidays, the Los Angeles Times reported that “this year may be even worse” as EMV makes “consumers’ purchases safer but also appears to be causing longer lines at some retailers.” CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz suggested “people are getting used to this change,” leading to an adjustment period that includes longer lines. National Retail Federation SVP Mallory Duncan was quoted as saying the organization “expressed concern with the card companies about the idea of rolling this out over the holiday period.”

In what it calls an “unwanted headache for small business owners,” Credit reported that a survey from Mercator Advisory Group, conducted in June, suggests that “some consumers are so annoyed by the new chip-enabled credit cards that they’ve begun avoiding stores that require them.” The poll found 7% of consumers who hold and have used a new EMV card – a “small but significant” group, roughly 2 percent of US adults – identified themselves as “avoiders;” young adult EMV cardholders however were almost twice as likely to fall into the group at 13 percent. “While consumers want the added security, consumers are having issues with the early implementation of it,” and “implementations may have difficulty managing customer experience” during the holiday shopping season, said Mercator’s Karen Augustine, the study’s author.

What This Means For Small Businesses

The EMV transition has been frustrating for many small businesses and their customers. This holiday shopping season may require extra patience from all parties as people adjust to the new EMV cards and card readers. However, providing multiple payment options for customers may alleviate the potential issue of “avoiders”.

Additional Reading

The Denver (CO) Post, Ars Technica, and the The Australian also provide continuing coverage of concerns surrounding the EMV transition. Forbes and the Economic Times (IND) meanwhile mentioned the migration in reports on preventing fraud.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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