How Much Does It Cost to Convert My Gas Pump Terminals to Be EMV Chip Ready?
Banks and credit card companies, always eager for ways to reduce credit card fraud, introduced EMV chip cards, which are much more secure than traditional cards with magnetic strips.
The rollout occurred in stages, with banks issuing the cards by October 2015, and most merchants having the same deadline to install credit card machines with EMV chip-reading capabilities. October 2016 was the deadline for ATMs accepting MasterCard, and October 2017 is the deadline for ATMs accepting Visa. Gas stations were also given the October 2017 deadline, as the cost of upgrading their pay-at-the-pump systems is much higher.
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Delay at the Pump
The change to EMV chip cards came with a variety of other changes as regards to how banks and other credit card providers handle liability for fraudulent credit card activity.
Previously, credit and debit card providers absorbed the cost of fraudulent and counterfeit credit and debit card purchases. With the introduction of EMV chip cards, any merchants failing to upgrade their credit card readers by the deadline are now responsible for such charges (unless the credit card provider failed to issue cards with the upgraded technology).
The delay at the pump is due to the fact that replacing payment terminals requires substantial changes to the pumps themselves, which in turn requires state and federal compliance inspections.
In addition to industry-specific inspection requirements, every EMV-enabled payment terminal requires certification by EMVCo as regards software, hardware, and the system's ability to handle every payment type.
What the Delay Means for Consumers
The delay in transitioning gas pump and ATMs to EMV chip compatibility has resulted in significant increases in credit card skimmers at both types of machines. This scenario was predicted for businesses choosing not to upgrade their equipment. Criminals rarely cease their fraudulent activities when new security measures arise. Instead, they just move their operation.
Businesses installing the upgraded equipment protect themselves from this type of fraud, since skimmers do not work with the EMV chips. So, criminals moved their skimmers, focusing on businesses without chip-compatible credit card readers, but especially on ATM and gas pumps.
The issue with skimmers has always been that they're nearly impossible to recognize. Consumers can protect themselves by always paying with credit instead of debit, which provides better protections against fraud. In addition, when it comes to banking, avoid ATMs if possible and instead go into your bank or use the drive-thru option.
What do EMV Chip Readers Cost Gas Stations?
It's hard to get a good estimate on this, as they are not only hard to find, but vary widely, between $6,000 and $17,000 per pump. That's bad enough for a small, locally owned station with only one or two pumps. Now, imagine the financial impact on a national chain with thousands of pumps requiring the upgrade.
Even the idea that they may have to start absorbing the cost of fraudulent charges has many stations balking at the cost of the upgrade. Even with the dramatic increase in skimmers and other fraudulent activity, some gas station operators believe it would take years to recoup the cost of the upgrade. The assumption is that another, more secure payment method will arrive before that happens.