The Truth About EMV and What it Means to Your Pharmacy

TheTruthAboutEMVI expect that by the end of this year, we may all get a little tired of being bombarded by information about the extreme changes that are being, and will continue to be, seen by the payment industry in 2015.  For pharmacies that face more regulatory and compliance changes in a year than most retail businesses see in a lifetime, it’s frustrating, overwhelming and just plain exhausting.  You’re most likely seeing all sorts of conflicting information about EMV, hearing all the hype about Apple Pay, and trying to figure out where Point-to-Point Encryption fits into this mess.  

While RMS customers will receive monthly updates on the status of EMV and other processing changes, it’s also important to understand why you might be receiving some different information from other sources.  This week, I wanted to take a moment to address some of the misleading, confusing, and just plain false information that has been circulating on this topic of late.

The Scare Tactic “You must be able to take EMV!”: EMV is NOT a requirement. This is perhaps the most important thing to understand about EMV right now.  The card brands and acquirers want to incentivize you to adopt it as soon as possible, but it’s not something that is required.  I know this might be a little hard to swallow, as many trusted media sources have decided to portray October 2015 as a hard and fast deadline for the EMV switchover, but it’s really not.  October 2015 is simply an incentive date — it’s the date when liability is shifted from you to them for any EMV cards that you process as EMV transaction. Acquirers and card brands like Visa and MasterCard want businesses to adopt EMV because it protects their interests.  What happens if you don’t adopt EMV by October? Absolutely nothing. No penalties, no additional risk — everything works just like it does today. So why should you adopt EMV at some point? We certainly aren’t trying to tell you not to adopt EMV at some point in the future, because it does reduce your liability for fraud but you can move at your own pace and budget for it in the future. Additionally, we fully expect the industry to mandate the change at some point, most likely years down the road.

The Sales Pitch “You must use XYZ Processing if you are going to implement EMV!”:  Because the credit card industry wants you to adopt EMV, you most likely have an army of sales reps trying to get you to switch to a new processing plan with EMV capability. They’ll act like any merchant that doesn’t already have this is completely behind the times and that must mean that your current processing partner isn’t serving you well.  This is simply not the case. Only a fraction of credit cards even have the EMV Chip and only huge chain stores that handle their own processing solutions are likely to have any EMV implementation.  This doesn’t mean that ignoring EMV is the right answer, but practice prudence, and talk with your POS provider before you agree to any changes to credit card processing or sign any new contracts.  Remember, a credit card sales rep has everything to gain by getting you to sign the dotted line, but your existing business partners should always have your best interests at heart.

The Mobile Pitch “You have to offer Apple Pay!”: Many processors will also use Apple Pay as a part of their sales pitch. Like any product that Apple releases, Apple Pay has been highly sensationalized.  Once again, thanks to our friends in the press, it has been portrayed more than once as the be all and end all payment option of the future.  But who’s to say really?  What we know right now is that Apple Pay transactions are expected to account for less than 1% of total transactions in 2015.  When you consider all the mobile payment options available today, including services like Apple Pay, MCX, Google Wallet, LoopPay, PayPal, and several others, time will tell which solutions become the mainstay.  While RMS is currently working with its payment processing partners to integrate all Near Field Communications (NFC) options, including Apple Pay, it shouldn’t be any small businesses primary concern when considering changes in 2015.

The Security Pitch “EMV will prevent you from being hacked!”:  Countless articles talk about the major credit card data breaches experienced by major retailers like Target, Home Depot and many more hand in hand with the coming EMV changes.  The problem is, that one has nothing to do with the other.  EMV prevents duplication of cards, not data breach and theft of credit card information.  The best way to protect your pharmacy from this kind of breach is to utilize point-to-point encryption (P2PE). P2PE means that credit card data never touches your point-of-sale system, dramtically reducing the risk of a major credit card data breach.

If you’re still a little confused about things, or not sure what to do with the flood of information and unsolicited calls from processors, here’s my advice.  Trust your business partners, like RMS, to give you the most honest answers and practical advice.  If you’re an RMS customer, just give us a call or send us a quick email.  We are always happy to answer any questions you have about EMV or any other credit card security topic. Stay tuned to for the very latest updates on EMV, P2PE and more.

karen-croppedKaren Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customers service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers.  Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.