What Your Small Business Needs to Know About the EMV Liability Shift

With all the rumors, confusion, and hype about the credit card fraud liability shift that happened on October 1st, we wanted to get to the bottom of it and understand the facts. Our friend Tanya Williamson at Gravity Payments took time to answer a few questions for us, and helped us better understand what’s changing and how small businesses should respond:


1) What is EMV?

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa, who set card payment standards. An EMV card has a smart card or computer chip  embedded on the front of the card. These cards are already in use in more than 130 countries around the world.


2) What will the chip do?

Ultimately, these cards will lower the risk of fraud and the production of counterfeit cards. Traditional, magnetic strips are easy to reproduce. The chips, on the other hand, create a unique code for each use, making it nearly impossible to counterfeit.


3) How will the chip effect businesses?

If businesses decide not to become compliant with the new technology than they run the risk of becoming liable for the losses associated with a fraudulent transaction. It is important to note, however, that it is not a legal issue whether you can take EMV cards. You will not get fined, suspended, penalized, or otherwise punished for not upgrading. You are, however, taking on more liability…  For EMV compliant merchants, both they and their customers can have more peace of mind knowing the risk of fraud happening are much lower than they were with the old swiping system.


emv chip card technology

Image courtesy of Pixabay and PublicDomainPictures

4) Is it true that liability for fraud and theft is now shifting to the business/merchant?

Not exactly. What’s changing is the criteria used to determine who’s liable. As of October 1st, the liability for a fraudulent transaction will fall on whichever party – the merchant or the card-issuing bank – is least EMV-equipped. Here are a few examples to explain this better:

  • Example 1: Suzy got sent a new chip card from her bank and walks into a store to use it, but they hadn’t upgraded their equipment yet. A fraudulent transaction happens, and because the store had not upgraded their equipment, they become responsible for Suzy’s losses.
  • Example 2: Joe’s bank hasn’t upgraded to the new cards yet, and he walks into a store to make a purchase on EMV-capable technology. A fraudulent transaction happens, and because the store had upgraded machines but the bank had not yet sent Joe a new chip card, the issuing financial institution is responsible for Joe’s losses.
  • Example 3: In the event neither customer or merchant have chip-capable equipment or if both have chip-capable equipment, the card-issuing financial institution is responsible for losses, just like they have been.


5) What are the pertinent facts businesses should know?

First of all, it bears repeating that you will not be punished simply for not upgrading your payment technology. However, choosing to not upgrade your payment options does put you at risk to have to cover the losses of fraud.


6) What expenses will businesses pay for upgrading their terminals?

The costs of new terminals vary, but the business will be responsible. With that said, a basic EMV capable terminal is going to cost around $300.  You can always get in touch with us for information and pricing specific to your terminal. 


7) How Gravity Payments is helping:

For small businesses, we can help you determine which upgrade option is best for your business!  Give me a call at 503-705-0785 and I’d love to help!

Get in touch with Tanya:Tanya Williamson

Contact her on LinkedIn

Visit Gravity Payments Online

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