2014 was a rough year for retailers when it came to credit card data security. Home Depot, UPS, Michaels and even PF Chang’s fell victim to hackers who used malware to expose vulnerabilities in their payment systems, causing data breaches that affected millions. Customers’ private information was made available, including their e-mail accounts, credit card numbers and home addresses, leaving consumers frightened that they would soon be victims of identity theft. The series of attacks led President Obama to take action in October 2014, signing an executive order to speed the adoption of EMV-standard cards in the U.S.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®, the companies who initially developed the standard. First deployed in Europe in 1992, EMV-based cards are more secure than simple magnetic stripe cards. The chip card creates a unique encrypted code (digital signature) for each transaction when the card is used, making it much more difficult for hackers to breach than the traditional magnetic stripe model.

In October 2015, liability for fraud losses falls on the party in the transaction that is least prepared for the EMV transition – card issuers, acquirers or potentially even merchants. This makes it extremely important that acquirers and merchants future-proof their systems by adopting EMV standards in order to protect their consumers as well as their own businesses.

One of the biggest barriers merchants will have to face is implementing EMV-based software effectively into their new hardware. According to Randy Vanderhoof, executive director for the EMV Migration Forum, “We can get cards into the market, and we can get terminals installed in the stores, but the part that’s the most difficult is getting the software on those terminals through the very complex, costly and time-consuming testing and certification process.”

Our customers (and their customers) are directly affected by this change, and with the software issue in mind, it’s important to us that our solutions ensure a straightforward and successful EMV transition. For example, our EMV-ready POS Universal Application is available for major terminal platforms, and it allows acquirers to automatically and easily update merchants’ terminals, simplifying their management. It’s truly future-proof. Additionally, our AprivaPay Mobile solution lets small and mid-sized businesses turn any Apple or Android device into a mobile POS terminal. It’s EMV-ready, allowing merchants to accept chip cards starting in mid-2015.

Enabling merchants to smoothly transition to EMV will be critical to its successful adoption. And while the technology is not a silver bullet to prevent consumer fraud, it does give both consumers and merchants an additional level of security needed for today’s increasingly paperless-payment society.

How long do you think it will be before we see mass adoption in the U.S.? What are your greatest concerns with making the transition to EMV? Share your thoughts with @Apriva on Twitter.

Bill Robertson, Director of Core Solutions