The End of Swipe-and-Sign Credit Cards


Businesses must prepare for EMV compliance or risk being held responsible for fraudulent charges

The credit card processing industry is making significant changes to the way credit card transactions are processed in the United States. In recent years, card issuers have begun adding EMV technology to consumer credit cards — small, yet powerful, computer chips that are much more difficult to hack or counterfeit than their magnetic-strip counterparts. The implementation of EMV technology is designed to curb credit card fraud and bring the United States up to date with the rest of the world.

“I think we are the last major country in the world that is not EMV compliant,” said Michael Novitski, director of sales and marketing for Merchant Service Center. “Europeans have been compliant since 1991. The United States only processes a quarter of all credit card transactions, but we're responsible for half the fraud that happens in credit card processing.”

With EMV technology, consumers insert their cards into a special terminal that reads the computer chip and encrypts the transaction information. While the switch to EMV technology won't change the way consumers use their credit cards, it does spell big changes for businesses, which must have EMV-enabled terminals in place by Oct. 1 or risk being financially liable for fraudulent transactions. Current regulations hold the card issuer accountable for fraudulent charges but, after the EMV switchover, businesses that are not EMV compliant will be accountable for that fraud. To become EMV compliant, businesses can contact their credit card processors to discuss new terminals. According to Novitski, it's also a great time for business owners to shop around to make sure they're getting the best deal on their processing services.

“Business owners can contact the company that does their credit card processing — a company like Merchant Service Center — to discuss new EMV-enabled terminals,” he said. “It's a really good time to step in and have someone re-evaluate your rates and see where you stand with your processor. If you're going to be changing out your terminals and changing out your cards, that's the perfect time to contact some other processors, and see how much you're being charged and how much you can save. Then you can make a more informed decision on where to get your processing equipment.”

As the Oct. 1 EMV compliance date nears, Novitski worries that the news still hasn't spread to all local business owners, who may be in for a nasty surprise if they find themselves on the hook for fraudulent credit card charges.

“The EMV switchover happens Oct. 1 but, like anything else, it's going to take awhile for everyone to comply and embrace the new technology,” he said. “A lot of merchants aren't aware of the upcoming switchover, and the ones who aren't aware need to pay attention to what's going on in the industry so that they can become compliant and they're not caught unaware.”

For more information on the upcoming EMV switchover or EMV-enabled terminals, call Merchant Service Center at 843-341-6700, email or visit Merchant Service Center is also on Facebook.