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EMV Cards and Chip Technology

Is your small business prepared for the upcoming switch to EMV debit and credit cards? The deadline is October 1, 2015, and all businesses (whether small or large) will be required to have EMV compliant point-of-sale terminals in place to accept the new cards. If you do not, your business (rather than the bank) will be liable for fraudulent debit or credit card transactions that occur at your establishment.

What is it? EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa) is a new, global technology standard designed to prevent debit and credit card fraud by enabling more secure in-person transactions. The new cards have a chip embedded in them, rather than the magnetic swipe strip we’re accustomed to. A customer inserts the card into the POS terminal, where it stays during the transaction. The chip then creates a unique code for that transaction, which can’t be used again. Unlike the sensitive customer data stored on a magnetic strip, the one-time code generated by chips is much less likely to be stolen, thereby minimizing fraud. The customer completes the transaction either by inputting a PIN or signing, as normal. Over 80 countries worldwide have already adopted the technology, and have seen dramatic decrease in fraud, as a result.

How do I get started? Contact the payment processing company that provides your current POS. To accept EMV payment cards, you’ll need compatible POS terminals and software. If your system is newer, it might already have EMV capability, and all you’ll need to do is turn on the feature. If not, you’ll need to upgrade to a new POS. Don’t worry, though — it doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. Square is offering customers a free EMV reader while supplies last, while Intuit is offering its EMV reader for only $30. So shop around!

Don’t wait to start the upgrade process. You need time to get the new terminals installed, train your employees, and ensure everything is working properly — all before October 1.

Our SBDC counselors can help make the transition to EMV smooth for you and your small business. Contact the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center at 712-325-3376 for an appointment!

(Photo credit: Ben Watts / Flickr)

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