Mobile payments represent the next frontier in seamless commerce. Our mobile devices are the hub of nearly all our daily activities, and they have the potential to become the nexus of all our commercial interactions as well. When the payment form factor is a mobile device, instead of a card (or a check, or cash), all the contextual information – like rewards numbers, coupons, payment history – can be automatically loaded onto the transaction, allowing for a customized, data-driven user experience. And it all happens in the background: one authenticated tap and it’s securely done.
Consumers have a lot to gain from embracing mobile payments, not least of which is the sheer number of payment options. There are many different ways to pay with a mobile device, from dedicated peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo and Square Cash, to payment capability embedded in retailer apps like Starbucks’ mobile app, to QR-code based apps like Alipay and WeChatPay, to tap-and-pay mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. In-app mobile payments, whether in the context of gaming or retail, are another fast-growing segment, as are payments made at a mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) like those offered by Square or CardFlight.
In 2018, 55 million people in the U.S. used their smartphone to make a payment at a physical point of sale, whether by loading money into a closed-loop mobile app (like the Starbucks app) or by loading a credit or debit card into an open-loop mobile wallet (like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay) and using it to pay at the point of sale.
The ETA Mobile Payments Committee reviews the State of Mobile Payments in the United States in its latest whitepaper. The report examines contactless transactions at the point of sale that are made with a mobile device, and presents data on adoption, usage, consumer attitudes, and projections for the future. The payments industry is working to make paying with a mobile device as natural as swiping or dipping a card or pulling out a dollar bill. Read the full report here.
If you have never encountered a credit or debit card with a chip
embedded in it, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past 3-4
years. In which case, you’ve got an awful lot to catch up on and we’ll come
back to chip cards after you’ve covered the important stuff. However, if you
haven’t been living under a rock and you’ve seen a chip card, chances are
you’re at least familiar with the new payment process: dip the card in the EMV
slot, wait, enter your PIN or sign for the transaction, remove card, and go.
But as a business owner, you might still be waffling on whether you need to
finally get around to accepting chip card transactions. After all, do you really need an EMV card
Let’s talk about chip card
readers and what they mean for businesses, and discuss whether it’s essential
for merchants to accept chip cards.
What Is An EMV Chip Card?
talked about how EMV cards require you to “dip” the chip. But why? What makes
EMV more complicated than standard magnetic stripe (magstripe) transactions?
simply stands for EuroPay,
Mastercard, and Visa, the organizations that pioneered the
technology. It’s actually the name for a set of security standards used for
credit card processing. EMV has been the dominant technology in Europe and
Canada for decades, but most of the world has switched over to EMV.
EMV uses a computer chip to
perform complex, dynamic verification that the card is genuine. These computer
chips can store and process much more data than the magnetic stripes on cards,
which makes them much harder to counterfeit.
Magstripe cards are relatively
easy to “clone” — that is, to copy a stolen card number onto a blank card to be
used at a brick and mortar store. EMV prevents cloning, and because the
verification process is dynamic (it generates a unique code each time the card
is used, whereas magstripe transactions use a static code), it also helps
prevent theft of the card using a skimmer. A skimmer is just a piece of
hardware installed over a magstripe terminal that copies the card data when a
card is swiped — the scammer installs the skimmer on a terminal and then retrieves
it later to harvest the card data, presumably to sell to someone else who will
try to use it to make expensive purchases online, or clone a card for
chip cards help reduce card-present card fraud, which has been rampant in the
US for a while now. That’s good news for anyone who runs a brick and mortar
storefront — EMV protects you against some kinds of chargebacks by preventing
fraudulent transactions from being possible in the first place. (It’s not such
good news for online businesses, because instead of cloning cards, scammers are simply moving to the Internet to
make their purchases.)
The key takeaway here? That tiny
little computer chip in a credit or debit card is way more powerful than the
magnetic stripe on the back of the card and therefore makes it harder for
scammers to steal or use stolen credit card numbers.
The EMV Liability Shift &
You might be wondering why chip
cards have suddenly appeared on just about every single card a customer has.
All of that has to do with a liability shift that took place in October 2015 —
but the plans were already in motion years before that.
The card associations (Visa,
MasterCard, Discover, and American Express in the US) got together with banks
and decided that they were going to start issuing EMV chip cards, bringing the
US in line with all of the other countries that already rely on EMV. But it’s
one thing to send chip cards out to customers — it’s another thing entirely to
get business owners to update their hardware to EMV-compliant solutions.
solution, then, was that the banks and card networks agreed to stop absorbing
the costs of any fraudulent transactions that could have been prevented with an
EMV chip card terminal. They set the date for this liability shift to October 1, 2015. After
that point, the business would be eating the cost of any fraudulent
transactions — meaning that instead of the banks and card networks reimbursing
the cardholder for the sale, the merchant would eat the cost of the transaction
(as well as the cost of any merchandise) in addition to any chargeback fees
assessed by the payment processor.
(If you’re wondering, certain
types of businesses are exempt from the current liability shift. For example,
gas stations have until 2020 to get EMV-capable readers for their pumps.
However, brick-and-mortar businesses on the whole already need to be
Let me be clear here: There is no
law demanding that you accept EMV transactions. You aren’t doing anything
illegal by not having a chip card reader. However, you are putting your
business and your livelihood at risk in the event that you do encounter a scam
artist trying to take advantage of your lack of EMV support.
processors are generally free to take whatever measures they want or feel
necessary to encourage their merchants to upgrade to chip card acceptance, too.
In some cases, a select few merchant account providers have started charging
EMV non-compliance fees for merchants who opted not to upgrade their hardware
after a certain date.
we’ve covered that, let’s get to the point: In the lead-up to the EMV liability
shift, sales representatives for payment processors and software providers
alike were pounding the pavement, trying to convince merchants to upgrade to
EMV, usually with the promise of a free or discounted EMV chip card terminal.
You can still find these sorts of offers, but we strongly encourage you to be
wary of offers of “free” hardware because you almost always end up paying the
cost back in some other way (usually higher fees). That’s not to say there
aren’t legitimate, high-quality merchant account providers with free hardware.
They exist, but they are few and far between; you need to learn how to
recognize the tactics used by less reputable providers and steer clear of them.
card terminals can take many forms, with a variety of features (such as a
customer-facing PIN pad or a wireless internet connection). However, for our
purposes, you can separate them into two basic categories: (1) magstripe and EMV card readers,
or (2) magstripe, EMV and NFC-capable
The former are generally cheaper,
because they have a simpler design and less hardware. You can still get all the
other bells and whistles, so the exact cost for a terminal will depend on what
features you want. As a ballpark estimate, you can expect a retail price of
about $200 for a basic EMV chip card terminal.
latter types of terminal usually cost a bit more, but are branded as “future
proof.” That’s because they support magstripe transactions as well as the two
technologies that are likely to dominate the US payments space in the coming
years: EMV (chip cards) and NFC (contactless payments, such as mobile wallets).
Again, you can get a mix of features in addition to support for the different
payment types, and the more features you have, the more you will pay. If you
want to know more about NFC and why it matters to the US payments industry.
One of the major hurdles in EMV
adoption has been the longer transaction times with chip cards: Instead of
simply swiping your card, you need to insert it and wait for the terminal to
tell you it’s okay to remove the card. And initially, EMV transactions were,
well, slow and laggy. To combat this, the card networks have worked hard to
develop solutions to reduce the amount of time the card needs to be inserted
into the terminal. Overall, the time it takes to make a payment with a chip
card has dropped considerably. However, keep in mind that exact times will vary
according to the hardware manufacturer as well as the payment processor (and
your own internet connection speed plays a role too).
About Mobile Chip Card Readers?
“But wait,” you say. “I don’t
have a POS or cash register, or even a physical storefront. I just take
payments on my phone or tablet. And people are still giving away free magstripe
readers. Why do I need to upgrade?”
The mobile processing space has
been the slowest in terms of EMV chip card adoption. But even so, mobile chip
card readers (the kind that connect to your smartphone or tablet) are starting
to catch on, too.
basic magstripe readers still rely on the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is
obsolete on recent iPhone models. Most Lightning connector magstripe readers
Instead, mobile payment companies
(and hardware manufacturers) have switched their focus to Bluetooth
connections, which work with iOS and Android equally well. And rather than make
just magstripe readers that work with Bluetooth, these devices also have chip
card readers built in. (I need to point out that some headphone jack card
readers do support EMV, but by and large chip card readers use Bluetooth.)
As with terminals, mobile chip readers tend to come in two
designs: magstripe and EMV, or (2) magstripe, EMV, and NFC/contactless (often
called “all in one” readers). However, mobile hardware tends to vary much more
than terminals, so you will see some exceptions, such as the Square Contactless
+ Chip Reader which supports chip cards and NFC payments, but not magstripe.
Do I Need To Accept EMV Chip Cards?
officially here to stay. However — much to my dismay — magstripe transactions
probably aren’t going away yet, either. So where does that leave us?
As a business owner, you should have an EMV chip card terminal or
mobile reader. It is the smart decision to protect your business and it
can also help win over customer trust by showing that you’re keeping up with
the latest hardware and security measures.
If you’re a very low-volume
business, or you’re in the type of industry with very small transactions (dry
cleaners or coffee shops, for example), I will admit that the risk of a
fraudulent transaction is fairly low. But it’s still a risk, and an EMV terminal
(or mobile chip card reader) isn’t all that expensive.
If you’re a larger business, you
have a high average transaction size, or you deal in the sort of goods that are
desirable to scammers, you absolutely should be looking at an EMV terminal if
you don’t already use one. Again, the cost of the reader isn’t all that much,
and if you do deal with larger transactions, the cost of one case of fraud
could easily be equal to the cost of an EMV terminal or reader.
you’re not accepting chip card payments yet, it’s time to reach out to your
payment processor and ask about upgrading your hardware. If you’re able to,
this is also a great opportunity to shop around a bit and see if another
payment processor can offer you a better deal on hardware as well as transaction
Over the last few years the small business landscape has gone through serious changes, perhaps none more than the merchant sector. Just about every advantage once reserved for big business has been somehow scaled, repackaged, or economized for the small business owner to leverage in order to accelerate their own growth. Innovations in industries like banking, advertising, and technology have empowered small business owners to focus on their driving vision instead of the multitude of administrative tasks that often slow things down. Now the question is, what are the trends and insights small businesses should be focusing on to take their businesses even further.
Philip McHugh, Senior EVP and President TSYS Merchant Solutions, talked about his top three trends for merchants in 2019. Let’s break down each one and consider their implications.
Trend 1: The strong economy will continue, but businesses must continue to get smarter.
“People talk about a retail Armageddon and there’s a lot of negativity out in the news, but actually, overall the economy has been incredibly strong. Companies and small businesses will have to be smarter and use technology in a smarter way to survive.” – Philip McHugh
The labor market is strong, new businesses have been opening, and profits are up, and as we have seen, technology is the great equalizer for small businesses. It can create efficiencies and amplify limited resources to help people get more done with less. It’s extremely important to remember that simply riding out a good economy is not a strategy for success. During the good times, it’s extremely important for small businesses to re-invest and upgrade in the technology that can provide efficiencies and help strengthen their business in order to weather the cyclical downturns that are sure to come.
Trend 2: The explosion of choice will continue to give small businesses buying power.
“The second trend I see with SMBs is the explosion of choice, the explosion of the overall offer. For our industry, that basic, simple device with simple merchant acquiring contract is going to fade out over time. Now we have to be much more solution led.” – Philip McHugh
When it comes to purchasing for a small business there seems to be a seemingly endless range of choice. Ecommerce, social media, and easily available reviews and content have created complete transparency to make this the ultimate buyers’ market. Small businesses expect more from their vendors and suppliers, and we must do everything we can to deliver on those expectations.
Trend 3: Software, software, software.
“There are so many companies out there using software to simplify the life of the merchant, but I see this only growing and growing and growing in every single industry.” – Philip McHugh
The trend of integrated software vendors or SaaS companies is almost mind blowing, but it’s really amazing how these solutions have helped small business owners manage just about every aspect of their day to day. For small business merchants, the point-of-sale solutions have become really exciting. The back-office capabilities have become so powerful and easy-to-use and are now moving to become highly specialized for a range of major verticals like bar and restaurant, retail, medical and field service.
On this Valentine’s Day, insights from payments data show that Americans will continue to increase their day of love spending on experiences, according to an analysis from ETA member Mastercard. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which provides overall retail spending trends across all payment types, including cash and check, experiential purchases – restaurants and hotels – is set experience solid growth this Valentine’s Day.
For restaurants, retail sales could increase 5.4 percent to $15.3 billion today, Mastercard predicts. For hotels, sales could jump nearly ten percent year-over-year, reaching $1.4 billion.
Unlikely to feel the love tonight are more traditional Valentine gifts, the report said. Jewelry sales are expected to decrease this year to $1.1 billion, despite a 2018 Valentine’s Day performance that surged over 25 percent higher than 2017. Overall luxury sales are likely to be flat, Mastercard predicts, generated $250 million and falling just .4 percent.
Data from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Valentine’s Day Spending Survey predicts that consumers will spend $162 per person on average on Valentine’s Day in 2019, up from $144 in 2018. Despite the higher average spend, NRF data suggests a downward trend in participation in the holiday – 51 percent of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday in 2019, down from 55 percent last year and from a high of 63 percent in 2007.
Significant others aren’t always the focus of Valentine’s Day spending, the NRF survey found. Gifts for pets continue to be popular, the NRF report says – 20 percent of consumers will buy a present for the pets, totaling $886 million and dwarfing 2008’s $519 million. And 11 percent of Americans plan on treating themselves to gifts like clothing and jewelry; just under 10 percent plan to get together with other single friends and family.
Our industry spends a lot of time trying to make our products and services invisible. That is, we try to make payments frictionless so that the end user doesn’t have to think about the process at all. We want consumers to focus on what they’re buying, not how they’re buying. The ETA Mobile Payments Committee works hard to make this seamless shopping experience a reality for everyone by promoting the adoption of mobile payments and identifying ways to expand the opportunities afforded by new technology. Below, committee members step back and consider what the mobile payments space will look like in 2025.
Q: Fast-Forward to 2025 – what is your wildest idea in terms of what will be hot in the Mobile Payments space?
Harry Hargens, TSYS: We may see a significant number of merchants (retail and restaurants) deploy technology that enables an “Uber experience”. Walk in, pick up an item you want to purchase, walk out. Or, finish your meal and just walk out. No interaction with a clerk, waiter, or POS required. I can’t predict exactly how this will work, but I’m pretty sure that a mobile device (phone, wearable, or implant) will be involved.
Craig Ross, Apple: “Hey Siri, pay for my items.” This is the catch-phrase that I think will be commonplace in 2025. I envision a world where I will be able to select items in a store and place them in a lightweight, reusable, and biodegradable bag made from hemp. Once I’ve completed my shopping, all I will need to do is speak those six words and Siri will take care of the rest. I will not need to authenticate via TouchID or FaceID, as Siri will use the biometrics of my voice to authenticate the transaction and then leverage Apple Pay to complete the transaction. Also, since Siri will know where I am, based on geolocation, she will be able to also send along my loyalty credentials so that I receive my standard double-points or loyalty discount percentage. Talk about hassle-free (and hands-free) commerce …
Steve Klebe, Google: Conversational Commerce (“OK Google, I need a Tall Latte”) is here now and will become much more pervasive in the next 5 years. Starbucks’ integration with Google Assistant is available today across Android, iOS and any Assistant enabled device from a variety of purveyors.
Markiyan Malko, Paysafe: At storefronts I can envision the Amazon Go type of experience where a consumer effectively walks in, grabs what they want, and walk out. We have the tech today and by 2025 it will be cheap enough to deploy and integrate that many mid-large retailers will have it. In eCommerce, I can see the checkout experience getting more streamlined as offerings like Apple Pay in Safari grow and the W3C works on the Payment Request API to make the integration of payments simple for merchants.