[Anthony Pickup] It’s no secret that not everyone in the US is convinced about the benefits of the move to EMV. The costs outweigh the fraud savings, some retailers say. Others question its use if signatures are still accepted at the POS.

Those points are valid (as, by the way, is Richard Sullivan of the Kansas City Fed’s point that the US lacks the type of fraud collecting and reporting tools that could help the US get the best out of EMV).

You could however even say that those criticisms don’t go far enough. You might also add that contact EMV is slower at the point of sale than magstripe, something else that is likely to cost rather than save retailers money.

 In fact, why aren’t retailers pushing for EMV contactless instead rather than just playing catch-up with the rest of the world?  A key benefit of contactless EMV is faster read times and greater read reliability of EMV data compared to contact cards. Ultimately, the business case for contactless depends on the retailer (speed is vital in supermarkets, less so in high end boutiques) but this speed increase coupled with the protection from card counterfeiting should help create more positive retailer business cases.  And after all it will be the retailers and their support for the new payments technology that will provide the acceptance infrastructure and the staff training to help customers to support any change in payment technology at the till (payment) point.   

That would mean that issuers could provide dual interface cards for travellers (the only people in the US who really need contact EMV) and domestic customers and schemes could have lower cost contactless only cards and devices.  This would give mobile NFC applications an acceptance infrastructure in the US, leaving US retailers able to benefit from the growth in mobile payments more quickly and easily than those in other countries.


  1. Contactless-only cards still require a secure EMV-compliant chip which doesn’t cost less than a dual-interface one. Copper contact pad (ISO 7816 interface) does not represent a “life-threatening” cost either.

    Likewise, the extra cost of a card reader in POS terminal is around $5 (I take it you are not suggesting to get rid of PIN too, i.e. keypad on POS).

    As for speed at a supermarket till, card insertion vs card tap+hold is not a major bottleneck, IMHO.

  2. These aren’t really “phases” are they? Pushed e-billing via moible seems like a reasonable proposition to me, but it’s not a stepping stone on the way to NFC, it’s a different payment mechanism entirely. Also, the progress toward NFC depends on the spread of contactless infrastructure, not the spread of m-payment infrastructure, if you see what I mean. Thanks for an interesting post though.

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