New Research Shows Only 48% of Fuel Merchants Meet EMV Deadline

ACI Worldwide survey paints a picture of the market as of the April 17 deadline.
paying the pump

MIAMI — The deadline for shifting the EMV liability on the forecourt passed this weekend and new research indicates many fuel retailers were not prepared.

According to ACI Worldwide, a provider of real-time digital payment software and solutions, shows that as of April 17, less than half (48 percent) of fuel merchants were able to meet the EMV automated fuel dispenser (AFD) compliance mandates.

As of the extended deadline, the liability for fraud now shift from card issuers to fuel merchants.

ACI surveyed fuel merchants that collectively represent 45,000 gas stations nationwide — including major oil companies, convenience stores and grocers.

The data also showed that only 50 percent of fuel merchants who were not fully implemented expect to be EMV compliant by the end of 2021.

"Although previously protected from fraud losses, merchants will now bear the brunt of fraud overnight," said Debbie Guerra, executive vice president, ACI Worldwide. "While EMV compliance is a major undertaking, and one that requires a significant capital investment, there is no doubt that the pandemic also played a big role in some fuel merchants' inability to meet the April deadline. With overall diminished resources due to the pandemic and slow testing and certification, which is typically done in person, merchants have certainly been challenged."

In addition, the ACI research showed fuel merchants' increased interest in implementing important security and fraud prevention measures such as point-to-point encryption (52 percent) and tokenization (39 percent). In ACI's July 2020 survey, 37 percent were considering point-to-point encryption and 26 percent were considering tokenization.

"Fortunately, for fuel merchants and their customers, the upgrades required for EMV at the dispenser will increase point-to-point encryption technology adoption. The additional bandwidth will allow merchants to secure all of their payments upfront," Guerra said.

Key findings around EMV readiness by the April 17 deadline include:

  • 48 percent of major fuel and convenience merchants have fully implemented EMV across all their gas stations.
  • 26 percent have more than three quarters of their fuel stations fully upgraded.
  • 22 percent currently have under half of their fuel stations fully upgraded.
  • 4 percent have between half and three quarters of their stations fully upgraded.

In addition, key findings on expected completion of EMV compliance include:

  • Of those that are not fully upgraded, 25 percent of major fuel and convenience merchants expect to be fully compliant by the second quarter of 2021.
  • An additional 25 percent of major fuel and convenience merchants expect to be fully compliant by the end of 2021.
  • 50 percent are unsure of when they will be fully compliant.

As for digital payments and additional improvements, 91 percent of fuel merchants plan to implement contactless payments in 2021, an increase compared to 85 percent that were planning to do so in 2020; 78 percent are considering implementing mobile payment options in 2021, an increase compared to 70 percent in 2020; and 48 percent are evaluating how to integrate loyalty initiatives at the fuel dispenser, a drop compared to 67 percent that were considering it in 2020.

For more on ACI's EMV Readiness Survey, Spring 2020, click here.