We’ve arrived at the one-year anniversary of last October’s liability shift, the date when retailers were required to begin accepting chip cards if they wanted to avoid certain fraud liabilities.

And yet, the state of chip card processing still hasn’t improved much. Consumers are hamstrung by painfully long transactions coupled with an ongoing guessing game of which point of sale terminals accept EMV. Think about it – how many times have you struggled to figure out whether you should swipe or insert? How many times have you waited what seemed like an eternity for your transaction to be approved?

We’ve known all along that slow EMV impacts retailers - EMV actually will add 116 million hours to the checkout experience this year - but we thought it was time to understand exactly how consumers felt about it and how it impacts their purchasing decisions, especially with the holidays fast approaching. So we commissioned an independent study of 1,000 consumers to get to the root of our questions.

Our new study sheds light on exactly how irritated consumers are and how worried retailers should be about the upcoming holiday season. Despite the average respondent using chip cards three or more times per week while shopping, they’re still not used to the new system. In fact, more than 80 percent of shoppers are frustrated and confused by chip cards; while almost two-thirds experience frustration when waiting for the transactions to complete.

A Bumpy Holiday Season Ahead

This mindset is even more ominous for merchants, and stands to negatively affect the upcoming holiday shopping season. Our study found that:

  • Nearly a quarter of customers (22 percent) say that a wait time of between 5-20 seconds means they would forgo shopping at that retailer in the future store — very bad news for retailers as the average EMV transaction sits around the 14 second mark.
  • Perhaps most alarming for brick and mortar retailers, holiday shopping behaviors will be impacted directly by the use of chip cards: 71 percent of shoppers are reporting that they are definitely or somewhat likely to shop online rather than in retail stores.

These lost customers are the major danger of slow EMV. Consumers have long memories, and they are not willing to wait forever. The next time they need to pick something up and they remember the slow transaction at a particular store, they’ll hesitate to return. The next time they walk into a retailer where they’ve already had a bad experience and they see a long line, they may turn right around and walk out.

Frequent Chip Card Use

Our research yielded interesting findings on the penetration of chip cards. Despite apparent consumer confusion and frustration around EMV, use of chip credit and debit cards is high. Our study found:

  • 42 percent of consumers use a chip card three or more times per week while shopping
  • However, POS machines that accept chip cards are not ubiquitous - 91 percent of shoppers have encountered machines that do not accept chip cards in the past six months
  • 50 percent of consumers think paying with a chip card is slower than making a purchase with a non-chip card.

The holidays are approaching fast, and slow EMV could have a huge impact—almost 70 percent say that EMV is making them more likely to shop online. Retailers need to find a solution for slow EMV, but more importantly they need to understand: customer service is absolutely crucial to your business’s success. Consumers want a fast, simple and stress-free experience in both shopping and checkout. And if they don’t get it, they may not give you another chance.

If you enjoyed this blog, here's some other articles you might be interested in.
EMV Will Add 116 Million Hours to Checkout This Year
4 Important Takeaways From Our EMV Webinar

​​One Year Later, Chip Cards Continue to Confound 80 Percent of Consumers

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