The EMV Liability Deadline Looms Large: Is Your Gas Station Ready?

The EMV Liability Deadline Looms Large: Is Your Gas Station Ready?

June 17th, 2020 - Payments, POS

By Brian DuCharme, Vice President of Product Management, TNS

It’s likely you’ve heard or grew up to the widely used US public service announcement that went something like this: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” Intended to draw parents’ attention to their kids’ whereabouts after the street lights came on. It is this message that keeps repeating in my head about the last phase of EMV-CHIP adoption in the US retail sector, so here is a twist on that: It’s June 2020. Do you know where your EMV-compatible automated fueling dispenser (AFD) upgrades are?

If you’re a fuel or convenience store retailer who’s already upgraded your equipment, congrats.

But if you haven’t started your project — or even started planning for it — it’s something that needs to take priority. The April 2021 deadline for the EMV liability shift, as it’s called, looms large on the horizon — and while that sounds like it’s still some time away, it’s sooner than you think.

Even more critically, the closer we get to the deadline, increased demands on dispenser manufacturers and 3rd party service installers will cause extended lead times on equipment and installation. Retailers who delay beginning their forecourt EMV upgrades will risk missing the liability shift deadline — and once we’re past it, the burden of nearly all of the card fraud will concentrate on fuel retailers who are not yet done with upgrading pump readers to more secure MNSP communication and secure POS reader technology.

During the last NACS annual conference held in Atlanta, Conexxus released a survey around readiness. It showed that only 13% of respondents — 79 owners or operators of 26,284 retail locations — said their fuel islands were fully deployed for EMV, and nearly 70% said they had no sites deployed. This data was captured during July 2019.

If you fall into this group, the good news is it’s not too late to capitalize on the remaining time. In fact, it’s smart to get going sooner rather than later: The longer you wait to upgrade, the more it will cost. Conexxus found that installation costs (e.g., labor) tend to increase due to high demand leading up to an industry-wide change. On average, installation costs rise 14% six months before the deadline, 23% three months before the deadline, and 33% at the deadline, and remain around 31% higher following the deadline. Why wait and pay more?

Apart from costs, there’s the red tape: the time required to receive a permit when updating sites. For example, in California, permits can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year to obtain, and other states likely have similar permitting waits; large metro areas take longer as well. Understand what your state or metro area requires, and plan accordingly.

To avoid increased costs, Conexxus recommends the following three tactics:

  1. Reach out to equipment supply companies and service technicians. Ask if your equipment is ready to process EMV transactions, or if you need to upgrade hardware (which usually requires a site survey).
  2. Order your equipment early. Ordering and receiving the necessary hardware is key for locking in an installation slot before costs go up.
  3. Schedule the technicians to perform the EMV upgrade ASAP. Don’t forget that the costs will start to spike in October of this year, per the aforementioned Conexxus research.

With only months to go once you exclude network freezes, holidays and vacation schedules, the impact of missing the deadline might be far greater than just the risk of additional fraud liability — you also risk increased installation/upgrade costs (you have to spend the money eventually either way, but the longer you wait, the pricier it gets), and potential loss of customer trust if your locations gain a reputation as being subject to fraud.

Don’t wait — upgrade today.

Brian is Vice President of Product Management for TNS’ FinTech Payments business and has over 20 years’ experience in the telecom and payments industries. At TNS, he leads a diverse global team and is responsible for driving product innovation for safer, more secure commerce around the world.

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