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EMV Compliance for Convenience Stores 101

By October 2020, all gas stations in the United States are expected to have EMV compatible card readers at all fuel dispensers. By most accounts, the likelihood of 100% compliance by the 2020 deadline are incredibly slim. What was once an October 2017 deadline, was pushed back by the credit card companies some three years due to a perception of slow adoption. No such extension is expected this time around.So what is EMV compliance, and why does it matter?

By October 2020, all gas stations in the United States are expected to have EMV compatible card readers at all fuel dispensers. By most accounts, the likelihood of 100% compliance by the 2020 deadline are incredibly slim. What was once an October 2017 deadline, was pushed back by the credit card companies some three years due to a perception of slow adoption. No such extension is expected this time around.

So what is EMV compliance, and why does it matter? EMV compliance is not law, but rather a set of standards put forth by the world’s largest credit card companies: Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. The intent is to provide greater protections for customers and a single set of standards for merchants to adhere to. Imagine if each credit card company had their own sets of standards to keep up with. Believe it or not, prior to 1993, that was actually the case!

Traditionally, credit and debit card information has been read off of the mag stripe on the back of the card. The data transmitted during the purchase authorization is identical to the information printed on the card itself: card number, expiration date, and cvv. Newer chip cards use a more modern technology whereby the same information is stored on an embedded microSD card but the key difference is that the same information shared during purchase authorization is “tokenized” and, therefore, useless to would-be criminals and fraudsters.

As there are no federal laws governing EMV compliance, the penalties for being non-compliant are not of the criminal or civil variety. Instead, the consequences will be felt in the form of a liability shift where store owners will become responsible for any fraudulent transactions processed at any non-EMV terminal.

There is also the matter of customer perception. With credit card skimming at fuel dispensers at an all-time high, consumers are more vigilant than ever when it comes to safeguarding their personal information. Law enforcement officials have discovered that the vast majority of credit card skimming activity on the forecourt is occurring on legacy dispensers with older equipment such as vertical card readers and membrane keypads. 



So why all the foot dragging? Convenience stores, for the most part, have actually done a great job converting payment terminals inside the store to EMV card readers. But that part is easy: you just purchase a new card reader. Fuel dispensers are not so simple. It is commonly assumed the only course of action in regards to EMV compliance in the forecourt is to purchase all new dispensers with EMV technology already built in. With new dispensers ringing to the tune of $15,000-$25,000 a piece, it’s no wonder so many store owners haven’t made the switch. 

With time running out and money on the line, the best course of action for a cost-effective solution is EMV retrofits. Using this approach, c-store owners get to keep their current fuel dispensers and instead only replace the card reader equipment with new equipment that is up to spec with all new technology and standards. Making the switch has the complexity of changing out a car stereo. With just a few screws and wires, a professional can make fuel dispensers EMV compliant and back up and running in as little as 30 minutes.

To learn more about how to make your fuel dispensers EMV compliant, reach out to FSG Smart Buildings today. Our team of experts are ready to guide you toward a retrofit solution that will keep the money in your pocket and the credit card companies off your back.

Contact us today to get started.

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