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What is the Deadline to Update ATMs to be EMV Chip-Compliant and What Does it Cost?

By October 1, 2015, most banks and other credit card providers had provided their cardholders with the new EMV chip cards. Merchants had until this same date to transition their POS systems to those with the capacity to read these EMV chip cards.

ATMs represent the final step in this shift.

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The Liability Shift, Credit Card Machines

The intention of this change was improved protection against credit card fraud. Merchants had no legal requirement to make the change, but they did have incentive in the form of fraud protection.

In the past, credit and debit card providers assumed financial responsibility for fraudulent transactions made with the magnetic stripe cards. If the card provider failed to provide chipped cards by the deadline, they remain responsible for fraudulent activity. However, with implementation of the EMV chip cards, businesses that fail to install compatible credit card machines assume that responsibility.

In the event both parties – the card issuer and the merchant – took equal steps toward security, previous liability applies (meaning that the banks assume responsibility).

The Liability Shift, ATMs

The deadline to upgrade ATMs to read EMV chip cards varies by card provider. For MasterCard, the deadline is October 1, 2016, while Visa's deadline is October 1, 2017. As with merchant liability for those failing to upgrade credit card machines, liability for fraudulent transactions shifts to the entity failing to make the EMV switch.

Consumers (people who use ATMs) will likely find fewer ATMs, as smaller operators may choose to pull their machines rather than make the change. They'll also discover changes in how they use the new machines, with different on-screen menus and prompts.

Though the deadlines for upgrading machines are staggered, most ATM owners will perform both upgrades simultaneously as a way to keep transition costs down.

Making the Upgrade

For ADA-compliant ATMs, upgrading requires software and a Level 1 EMV-certified card reader. An upgrade kit consisting of the card reader, bezel, mounting hardware, and various parts averages between $200 and $300.

However, actual costs come in about 10 times that amount, averaging between $2,000 and $4,000. This takes into account the software changes the EMV upgrade requires. The costs seem high, but when you factor in the cost of not performing the upgrade, and therefore assuming fraud liability, the cost is minor.

ATM operators that fail to make the upgrade eat the cost of fraud committed by criminals using counterfeit, magnetic stripe cards. Countries that completed this upgrade years ago, such as those in the European Union and Canada, experienced these issues. At that time, criminals using counterfeit credit and debit cards began targeting smaller ATM providers, such as those located in convenience stores and not anchored to a banking institution.

The Bottom Line

ATM owners must decide whether the cost of the upgrade is one they can absorb. If not, they must then decide whether the risk of fraud is worth remaining in business. The result may be a decision to close those ATM machines receiving less business, while making the upgrade to those receiving the highest levels of use.

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