By Kevin Woodward
Card-brand efforts to improve consumers’ perceptions of EMV transaction speeds took a step ahead this week when a grocer debuted updated EMV software on its point-of-sale systems.
New Seasons Markets, including its New Leaf Community Markets unit, is now using the Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast technologies from Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., respectively, on its POS systems. In one location the move bumped up the checkout pace by 12% to 13%, says Joseph Koenig, partner technology manager at Index, the software integrator that handled the EMV POS update. Portland, Ore.-based New Seasons Market has 19 West Coast locations and seven New Leaf locations in Northern California.
Announced earlier this year, both the Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast technology enables the cardholder to remove the card from the terminal as soon as the one-time EMV cryptogram is generated rather than leaving it in for a few more seconds under normal protocols. The programs are designed to address perceptions that EMV transactions take longer.
At New Leaf, which had the traditional EMV software for about a week prior to the speedier variant, chip cards can be removed from terminals in less than three seconds, says Stephanie Ericksen, Visa vice president of risk and authentication products. Traditional EMV software requires the chip card be inserted when prompted and not removed until all of the purchases have been rung.
“Today, with traditional EMV, customers are waiting for screen prompts,” Ericksen tells Digital Transactions News. “As you move to Quick Chip, you can insert the card at any point in time. From a customer perspective, it’s a little more natural experience.”
Index needed only a few hours to update the POS software, which connects to VeriFone Systems Inc. or Ingenico Group devices, because of the condensed set of test cases in the Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast specifications, says Mark Freed-Finnegan, co-founder and chief executive of San Francisco-based Index. In six days of development, much of that was devoted to testing, he says. “It only takes a few hours to run the test cases,” Freed-Finnegan says.
The process, which results in the payment device handling all of the sensitive payment data and not the software on the Toshiba POS terminals clerks use to tally purchases, is so swift that Freed-Finnegan says the next set of Index clients to adopt EMV will go straight to the faster variant.
Part of what expedites the development and implementation—an overnight update to the terminals installed the new software—is that the Visa and MasterCard speedy EVM specifications are aligned, Freed-Finnegan says. “It’s a ‘write one, test everywhere’ situation.” Discover Financial Services and American Express Co. also offer similar technology.
Ericksen expects “a lot” of national merchants to adopt Quick Chip in the next month or so. Some merchants already into their EMV programs are instead bumping their efforts up to Quick Chip, she says.
The Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast specifications are available at no cost.