As you may have heard, the adoption of chip cards has the potential to greatly reduce counterfeit fraud and should help make consumers feel more confident about using their payment cards to make purchases. But in order to work, merchants must upgrade their card terminals so they are capable of reading the new chip cards.
The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to ease the transition to accepting chip payments – including this online toolkit that Visa developed for merchants. It is full of information on everything from how to train your staff to how the EMV technology works. But perhaps the most important thing you can do today is to start developing a chip acceptance game plan. There are additional details inside, but here are ten steps to consider as you begin the implementation process.
Step 1: Meet With Your Acquirer or Card Processor.
To start your migration to chip technology, it is important to meet with your acquirer or card processor who can help you set your plans in motion. They can help you better understand what it is going to take to integrate chip technology into your existing point-of-sale system. There may be opportunities to streamline existing processes, upgrade your payments infrastructure, add new services and improve customer service.
Step 2: Build Your Internal Chip Implementation Team.
A successful chip implementation will involve individuals across your organization – from those with IT, finance and operations know-how to those with expertise in marketing, training and sales. So, it is key that you identify the right people and put a strong project manager in charge of tracking the different activities. Depending on your needs, it also may be appropriate to engage experienced EMV chip implementation consultant to help with the planning.
Step 3: Assess Your Current Merchant Environment and Conduct a Merchant Needs Analysis.
To figure out what you need to start supporting chip payments, start by documenting your current payment processing arrangements. The assessment should include a detailed understanding of the payments hardware and software your business relies on, payment data processing flow, and the financial resources available, among other key pieces of info. Many smaller businesses likely have a terminal that has a slot for chip cards and they don’t know it; they will simply need to work with their processor to activate it. So, visually inspect your terminal to find out.
With the information you’ve collected, you are ready to compare your current processing infrastructure and requirements to those needed to support chip card acceptance. One way to make sure that all key internal stakeholders are involved in this process is to ask representative from each key function to conduct their own needs analysis—and then present their findings to the chip implementation team.
Step 4: Build Your Acceptance Knowledge Base.
Be sure to collect any additional information you need to better understand what it is going to take to integrate Visa chip logic into your POS system. This may involve meeting with external stakeholders including your acquirer and/or card processor. A few things you may want to discuss include whether you will be doing dual Interface, contact, or contactless/mobile chip acceptance; what verification methods you plan to support, such as signature or PIN; and where you will place the terminal as well as any branding or signage needs. As part of this process, you may find new opportunities to add new services and generate revenue, and improve customer service.
Step 5: Initiate and Review Internal Plans.
Once the project team has a clearer picture of what’s needed in the organization, it’s time to start developing a roadmap for implementation. Sketch out a timetable for key decisions on terminal hardware and software options, system requirements and other needs.
Step 6: Finalize Your Chip Implementation Decisions.
Meet as a project team to finalize a number of key decisions on the implementation process. Among the key questions you might need to consider is whether your point-of-sale terminals and software can be upgraded or need to be replaced, whether PIN pad device are needed, and whether there are stakeholders with whom you should partner.
Step 7: Work With Selected Stakeholder Partners to Plan Your Chip Implementation.
After finalizing your decisions, it’s important that you keep your organization abreast of key project milestones. It is recommended that you hold a kickoff meeting with the internal chip implementation team to review the final decision regarding stakeholder partners, equipment decisions, and the overall direction and cost of the project. Then, plan to hold another meeting that brings together both internal and external stakeholders in order to make sure everyone is on board.
Step 8: Test Your System.
Visa requires that merchants test their terminals to ensure they are ready to accept the new chip cards, and then have the results of the test entered into the Chip Compliance Reporting tool by the acquirer, processor, or another approved vendor.
However, that doesn’t mean merchants have to test their equipment in every store. Merchants should work with their acquirer and processor on all testing requirements.
Step 9: Train Merchant Point-of-Sale Staff.
The shift to chip technology from traditional magnetic stripe cards should not be a big deal to most consumers, but merchants should anticipate needing to provide some education at the start. Instead of swiping their card, shoppers will need to insert it into the new chip card terminals. And they will have to keep it inserted for the entire transaction process; early removal will prevent the transaction from going through.
Merchants will need to make sure their sales associates are aware of these and other changes—and can comfortably explain them to their customers. That could mean preparing a brief script for their staff to follow, or posting signage at the checkout counter. Visa has a number of customizable marketing materials available at VisaChip.com/BusinessToolkit that can help.
Step 10: Perform Pilot Store Installation.
Congrats! You’ve made it. But even after all this careful planning, there is nothing like a dry run to help identify areas needing improvement. That’s why we recommend installing the required software and hardware in a pilot store and monitoring the results for at least 30 days. You’ll also want to get feedback from your sales staff on the frontlines and check-in with your acquirer, processor, and other stakeholders to make sure things are going smoothly on their end.
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