Is the US ATM industry making too big a fuss about EMV?

May 27, 2014

by Bill Trueman
Managing Director, UK Fraud

Being based in Europe (though working globally), the U.S. reporting on EMV becomes more and more astounding to me as time goes by. The debate amazes us in Europe, and no doubt, observers globally, mainly because of the extremely strange logic being applied, and the major inaccuracies that are being propagated in the anti-EMV debates. So let’s get some of these issues aired.

EMV is a European thing.This is the most surprising revelation, and people have got to stop, stop saying this. The U.S. principle of “not invented here” does not apply. EMV is a wholly U.S.-developed, -owned and -domiciled solution that Europe adopted because of the mandates to do so coming out of U.S. companies, and because Europe saw the fraud problems looming.

With the obvious exception of Europay (which does not exist today), the original forefathers of EMV — Europay, MasterCard and Visa — are all U.S.-owned, -controlled and -headquartered companies. The EMV standards authorship and member organizations are all U.S.-owned and -based with the exception now of a Japanese and a Chinese company.

The need for EMV was driven by the fraud needs of markets outside of the U.S. coupled with the desire for enhanced cardholder verification and the ability to manage Issuer authorizations, either online to issuer host or offline at an Issuer’s agent — i.e., an EMV-enabled chip card. The European market saw the direction fraud was going; saw increases in domestic fraud losses; saw increasing cross-border fraud problems, not because we have more borders, but because in the U.K. or Germany or France we could measure it and publish it nationally because we collected national data on fraud losses.

And please stop spreading the myth that France was first to adopt EMV. It wasn’t. France was the first country to adopt cards with chips on them, using a domestic and proprietary standard, but these chips contained only low-level security that is associated today with all the inherent problems of the magnetic stripe — skimming, reproducing, counterfeiting, etc.

In Europe, though incredibly challenging to "cut through the treacle" of economic and cultural stubbornness (i.e., red tape), markets collaborated to deploy EMV-enabled cards, ATMs and point-of-sale devices. This was not delivered overnight, but it was delivered through the cooperation of a multitude of stakeholders across the financial services sector, merchant industry segments, suppliers, regulators, and others. It also took significant “championing” skills by the international card schemes — primarily Visa and MasterCard — to educate, facilitate, coerce, and reward or penalize, as the case may have been, and clearly is at the moment in the U.S..

It is also interesting to see that many other key markets and regions around the globe took lessons from Europe — both the positive and negative — to shape their own national and regional migration plans.

The ‘business case’ does not work.Well that is a corker! The business case has been established now in almost every jurisdiction around the globe. I imagine that national markets, individual stakeholders, and card schemes both regionally and globally have prepared their own weighty tomes. I am sure that if we were to read some of these individual masterpieces we would have a little "titter," but it was a business justification that was required more than a business case.

Why is there no business case made in the U.S. yet? Why has the U.S. not been able to develop a logical, and yes expensive, business justification? I have been seeking out these mythical business cases for the last two years, and every time someone quotes from these ethereal documents, I have asked for a copy. Strangely one never appears.

Business justification is more than just cost vs. revenue. Everyone has looked at the EMV migration as a very long journey — over the long term. This does make it difficult though for a financial services industry that is fixated on next quarter’s performance reporting.

The U.S. does have an exceptional set of circumstances and problems, in that it does not have a single (or even a collection of) industry bodies that have been (or could be) coordinating a business case, costs, and losses; or developing a series of fixed vendor costs along the way.

The U.K. and Canada are just two examples of where this collaborative approach was essential, necessary, delivered and successful.

And if the business case does not exist, then why not? Business justification is more than just bottom line costs vs. revenues. It is about doing the right thing for the marketplace, corporate social responsibility, brand reputation, defending against and managing regulatory interference, new business development opportunities and, yes, the question of ROI.

Have we collectively learned nothing from the debacle at Target, to pick on just one recent case of management blindness?

In developing chips, cards, point-of-sale devices, terminal software, standards, certification requirements and the necessary supporting infrastructure, the hard work has now been done and valuable lessons learned. Key elements are already in place and these things are now all commodities.

The supplier community is ready. Merchants will take some more encouragement, but those with an international footprint already get the message and also wonder why the U.S. is so far behind. Accordingly, the costs of putting ICCs on cards are approaching single-digit percentages of the costs the European early adopters had to pay more than a decade ago at the behest of the U.S.-mandated requirements. The same applies to much of the rest of the infrastructure required.

The U.S. has so many more different suppliers, systems, infrastructures, etc. Hmmm ... The U.S. does have a small number of national languages (not dozens) and a single currency (not dozens). Yes, the U.S. political stage is overly complex with federal and state legislature —  not dissimilar to the multijurisdictions of the European marketplace and those playing, or not, in the Eurozone.

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other nations have local states and languages spread across them, and they're often much more diverse in these single countries than within the U.S. as a whole. The telecoms-communications infrastructure in Europe has had to evolve faster as there are so many countries and in each one, different standards and architecture.

And rest assured, in most European countries (again, dozens of them), there is a completely different set of issuers, acquirers, processors, POS device suppliers and integrators, gateways, standards for these things and encryption, security, screening solutions etc. There are different European laws about data protection and transmission and privacy — and it goes on. As in the U.S., European players need to be cognizant of international law and how this affects the jurisdictions of the seller and buyer.

Durbin Act — Why this "red-herring" has suddenly become an issue is rather odd. This type of legislation is not adopted in some European countries, but it is in many others. Accordingly, one of the features that EMV had to develop to meet such legal requirements of the EU (and other countries) was multichannel functionality and the opportunity for consumers to be given choice through account selection at the point of sale. Equally, merchants can still facilitate processing options for debit and credit transactions.

Contrary to popular myth, routing logic is not prevented by the introduction of EMV. In fact, EMV functionality makes it easier to determine and communicate at the point of interaction. All that is needed is for all key stakeholders to sort out the legal debate and agree on the business rules.

Would somebody please track down the first person that started to propagate the Durbin EMV fallacy and see why they started this hare running, and would everyone else please check the facts and stop believing it?

EMV does not support NFC. Really? Check the numbers for all NFC-enabled card programs outside of the U.S. EMV supports the pixies at the end of the garden; it is the founding technology behind warp-drives, cloaking devices and time travel; it will make the supper; and it contributes towards world peace. Again all fallacies, though the last maybe nearer to the truth than all the rest put together. But it is this world peace question that is worth debate and thinking about — especially in the context of the challenges of card acceptance in Russia at the moment!

 

Bill Trueman works for UK Fraud, a consultancy that advises on card industry strategy, risk management direction and chip and PIN, and is part of a team that saves money for clients in every engagement. He can be contacted at bill.trueman@riskskill.com for further discussions or debate — no abuse, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cover photo: ferguson photography


Topics: Central and Eastern Europe, EMV, Regulatory Issues, Security, Skimming / Fraud


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