Restaurant Owners Readying for EMV But Want More Card Protection

Plastic and digits are used in lieu of cash everywhere, but the food biz continues to find itself one of the most heavily “charged” industries, since everyone — whether it’s a fast food fish filet, sit-down bone-in ribeye, a morning tofu scramble, or anything else — has to eat.

The latest online edition of Nation’s Restaurant News has a headline declaring that restaurants are preparing “for changes in credit card technology,” with a sub-head declaring that the “shift to EMV payment standard requires major updates to point-of-sale systems.”

NRN has a good explanation for its client businesses about what EMV is: “Named after its developers (Europay, MasterCard and Visa), (it) requires cards that have embedded microprocessor chips that store and protect encrypted user data instead of the magnetic strip widely used in the U.S. The chip in the card generates a one-time code for each transaction, which makes it more difficult to a counterfeit.”

However there’s a certain ambivalence in the article about EMV’s arrival as well: “‘EMV technology protects against counterfeit cards to some degree, but it’s not a silver bullet for fraud,’said Liz Garner, the National Restaurant Association’s director of commerce and entrepreneurship.”

Garner advocates an even higher level of security by adding PIN use as well. Noting that in the 21st century, we even use PINs to access our own phones, she says “Without issuing cards with PINs, it makes very little sense from fraud prevention and a lost-and-stolen type environment.”

She advocates this in part because of the expenses that will be incurred in switching over all the point-of-sales equipment. Why spend the money if the solution won’t really maximize security?

Ideally, the switch over needs to be done by October of 2015, before card issuers start assessing penalties for non-compliance, but there’s lots of ambivalence about that, too.

The article further cites Garner, who noted “it took Canada, with an economy smaller than that of the United States, seven to 10 years to move to a new level of card technology.

“At large restaurant chains, changes in POS technology usually take about 18 to 24 months for acquisition and implementation. The companies then have to certify with their card processors that they are meeting their standards, she said.”

So EMV standards may not be standard until even later — closer to the midpoint of the next Presidential administration, perhaps. But those standards are coming, nonetheless. And with each new breach, the hue and cry goes up to speed EMV adoption even faster.

So where does that leave you?  Just on the other side of a phone if you call your AVPS rep, and need additional answers.

The world of payments continues to change — perhaps more rapidly than at any time since the invention of the “Diners Club” card back in the 1950’s  — which tells you just how bound up the food world has been with the payments industry.

But no matter if your business is artisan sandwiches, juice smoothies, Hunan Chinese or anything else entirely non-food related, make sure your payment options remain secure, and up-to-date.

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten a bit hungry writing this and are off to look for a snack. See you next week!

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