EMV Debated at Gilbarco Conference

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) guidelines are a step in the right direction, but there’s little return on investment for convenience store retailers that update their fuel dispensers equipped with the anti-fraud credit and debit card acceptors.

"Forecourt installation costs could be huge," said Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus (formerly PCATS), speaking during the "EMV Migration in the United States” educational session on the second day of Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s 2014 Retail Technology Conference. "We have to ask ourselves what the risk is if we don’t [upgrade our fuel dispensers].”

Under MasterCard EMV guidelines, U.S. retailers need to upgrade point-of-sale devices to contain chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature EMV readers by October 2015, ATM machines by October 2016, and pump dispensers by October 2017 in order to avoid financial liability for transactions involving lost or stolen debit and credit cards.

However, Taylor stated it is unlikely that most U.S. gas pump dispensers will have EMV readers by 2017. In fact, he predicted the transition will take 10 years to fully go into effect.

“We’re going to spend $30 billion to fix a $6-billion [fraud] problem,” he remarked. “Half of c-store retailers can’t afford EMV upgrades. Many small companies can’t get financial loans they need. [So,] we have a real problem here.”

On top of the massive costs associated with upgrading forecourt devices to accept EMV, Taylor noted that there’s very little tangible payback for the dollars spent. “You have to serve your customers,” he said. “Will they go down the street because your competitor has an EMV terminal? If they will, then there is a return on investment.”

Conexxus’ executive director did acknowledge that EMV is a good anti-fraud technology and he recommended c-store retailers buying new fuel dispensers purchase EMV-capable ones. But he stressed that the costs associated with doing so should not disturb a c-store’s growth.

“Don’t let EMV disrupt innovation,” he cautioned. “Make sure cash is left for growth.”


Fellow panelist Oliver Manahan, executive director of product compliance for MasterCard Inc., told conference attendees that he certainly understands the concerns raised by Taylor and admitted MasterCard knows many retailers will not upgrade to EMV-capable dispensers by October 2017, as the date is a guideline and not a mandate.

He stressed, however, that current magnetic swipe technology is more than 40 years old and MasterCard has no intention of pushing back the liability shift dates.

“We know it’s a business decision everyone needs to make,” Manahan said. “But we want to see fraud removed from the system. It’s good for society to prevent organized criminals from orchestrating these [data] attacks like the one we saw with Target.”

Chip-and-PIN is the best technology to prevent debit and credit fraud, as opposed to the chip-and-signature option, added Robin Trickel, executive director of product compliance for Heartland Payment Systems, who also joined Taylor and Manahan on the EMV panel.  

Trickel advised the approximately 150 people in attendance to immediately devise a timeline for implementing EMV, even if the process can’t be completed by 2017.

The Gilbarco Veeder-Root 2014 Retail Technology Conference concludes Friday at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C.

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