In 2015 the United States finally caught up with the world and began using EMV, or chip cards. Having EMV compatible equipment became part of the PCI regulations, with the exception of gas stations, who had a two year extension.
The key component of EMV is the chip, which holds the encrypted information on integrated circuits, as well as the magnetic strip. As of October 1, 2015 all card issuers shifted the liability to the consumers/business owners. Gas stations will have until October 1, 2020 to be EMV compliance for pay at the pump at any point of sale.
EMV cards solve this problem with smart chips—that silver square located on the card.
Rather than being swiped into a card reader, EMV chip cards are dipped into compliant readers so that the reader interacts with the chip. The square chips on the edge of EMV cards ensure that the card generates one-time transaction codes unique to each purchase.
This process, known as tokenization, obscures the purchaser’s actual credit card number during the purchasing process so that the chip reader only sees random alphanumerical strings. After the smart chip communicates to the card processor to verify and authenticate purchase and availability of funds, the transaction is processed. Plus, EMV technology allows customers to pay securely via their smartphones and smart devices using NFC radio wave technology with compatible EMV readers.
Having the correct equipment for your business, as well as being able to read EMV are two very vital practices to keep your business and customers safe.
The encryption that comes with EMV scrambles the information from end to end. The data being sent cannot be read until it reaches its destination. When you are using a EMV reader, in addition to EMV cards it is that much harder for that information to become compromised.
The end to end encryption is why having the correct equipment is crucial. The free reader you picked up somewhere probably doesn't have any encryption at all. It is especially worrisome for mobile payments where someone is also using their personal phone to take payments.
To learn more about EMV check out our blog.