It’s hard to believe that two years has passed since retailers across the US began accepting chip card payments. What started as a mandate to avoid fraud liabilities turned into a big aggravation for consumers and retailers. Shoppers either encountered too many checkouts that didn’t yet accept chip cards (often advertised via a gnarly yellow post-it note affixed to the POS) or were forced to wait unreasonably long times while the chip card payment processed. In fact, we even calculated that retailers were adding a staggering 116M hours per year to the checkout experience due to this EMV processing lag.

So it would be natural to think that, two years later, the problems facing EMV adoption and processing would have been resolved. Alas, no.  We conducted a study of 1,000 consumers and 500 retailers about their experience with EMV and were surprised to learn that merchants still have work to do to meet consumers’ expectations.

According to our survey, consumers are frustrated for two principal reasons. The first is the majority of them want to pay with their chip-enabled debit/credit cards and, naturally, are vexed when they find out they cannot. Our research also found that only two in three retailers currently accept EMV. What’s more surprising is that, despite the mandate, 38 percent of those retailers who don’t accept EMV think it’s not necessary. Whether the barrier is a matter of cost or the perceived complexity of implementation, the reality is that every merchant should now be EMV compliant - not only to avoid fraudulent chargebacks but also to deliver on the payment options customers expect.

The second frustration is speed. Or rather, the perceived lack of it.

Despite the fact that chip card transaction speeds have generally improved (the average transaction takes around 11 seconds), our study found shoppers feel like it just still takes too long.

Twenty-six percent of consumers estimate they wait half a minute or more for a transaction to complete, while another 22 percent report wait times up to 20 seconds long. The fact is that no one likes to be made to wait especially if you’re the busy shopper stuck at the checkout or the folks tapping their toes in the growing line behind.

However what surprised us even further was that most retailers appear relatively unconcerned by this. Seventy-six percent of them claim to be “mildly to not at all frustrated” by the fact that their chip card transactions are taking so long.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect between what retailers think is acceptable and what consumers want but there’s still an opportunity for merchants to accelerate their EMV systems. With the holidays fast approaching, making speedier EMV processing a high priority could make the difference between a positive and a frustrating customer experience.


​​EMV Turns Two, But Frustrations Persist

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