EMV rollout in the United States has been long and slow. In the locations that have implemented chip card reading technology, there are often a flurry of frustrated customers. Their primary complaint being that chip card transactions are incredibly slow. Unlike their magnetic stripe counterparts, chip cards must be inserted into the reader for a longer period of time until the transaction is complete. Some customers have reported waiting up to 15 seconds or longer for their authorization to go through. Not only does this create agitated customers, but it slows the checkout process completely, increasing wait times in lines for merchants and deterring customers away from their business.
Card issuers were so initially focused on removing fraud liability and improving security that speed of transaction seemed to have been an afterthought. Thankfully Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover have offered solutions for faster EMV transactions. All of these major card brands have updated their EMV software with Quick Chip (M/Chip Fast for MasterCard), hoping to ease the pain of merchants and customers alike.
The Common Problems with EMV
Typical chip card transactions will not begin processing until the cashier has finished ringing up the sale. Customers were used to simply swiping their card while the cashier was ringing up their items, creating a quick checkout process. Now, customers find that they can insert their chip cards, but it will not begin processing. Once the cashier finished and the card does begin to process, there is an average 15-second delay as both the cashier and the customer wait to find out whether the transaction will be successfully approved. This added time is due to the encryption and decryption processes that come with EMV payments, which is what makes them so secure. Beyond that, not all POS terminals are created equal. They differ by processing power, software, and connection speed, all factors that could lead to even longer delays. If for some reason the transaction fails, the customer will then be asked to swipe their card and use the magnetic strip, causing even more delays in transaction speeds.
The primary issue that customers complain about is that the card must be left in the reader until the authorization is completed. This is radically different than older technology, which allowed the customer to swipe their card and then put it away while the transaction was finalizing.
What Is Quick Chip and How Does It Help Transaction Speed?
Quick chip is simply a software update but an extremely important one. It has been introduced by credit card companies as the next phase of EMV technology. One of the biggest improvements that comes with Quick Chip technology is that the POS system retains the chip data when it requests an authorization, known as the Authorization Request Cryptogram, or ARQC.
Once that AEQC is returned by the chip, the terminal will then prompt the user to remove the card. Since the chip information is retained, the process can occur at all points during the transaction. If done in the middle of the transaction, the authorization is for a provisional transaction amount of what has been scanned. This amount will not display to the customer, nor will it affect the final authorization for the transaction. When the final transaction amount is realized, the POS terminal will then build the authorization request messaged. The request will have the relevant transaction amount on it.
The card is removed prior to the authorization completing, meaning that the post-authorization card processing is not completed. This includes the Issuer Authentication and Script Processing. These post-authorization steps were initially included as another layer of fraud detection where the chip embedded in the card was used to verify that the issuer response is in fact, from the issuer. Essentially, a layer of fraud-prevention security that originally implemented into the cards has been removed in order to facilitate quicker transactions. Quick Chip transactions take only two to three seconds to complete, which great reduces transaction wait times. This results in happier customers with only a small bit of security lost.
How Can Quick Chip Be Implemented?
If a merchant is interested in this new EMV update, the good news is that it can be implemented within preexisting equipment and card processor. There are a few limitations, it is only available in the United States and the POS software will need to be updated. In addition, the system only works online, so if a terminal goes offline, they will be unable to process chip card payments.
Here are the links to learn more about each credit card company’s Quick Chip update implementation:
Sterling Payment Technologies’ Proprietary Ingenico EMV Application Now Supports EMV Quick Chip Processing
On August 15, 2017, Sterling Payment Technologies began providing an update to the Ingenico iCT220, iCT250, and iWL250 terminals. This update will enable support for EMV Quick Chip processing. The Ingenico terminals are capable of performing automatic updates. Every 28 days, the terminal will connect to Sterling and perform any needed updates. The merchant is not required to take any action to get this latest update as it will occur on the terminal’s scheduled interval. However, if a merchant has any issues or questions at all, they can reach the Sterling Technical Support team (800-383-0561) to request the terminal be updated via a download at any time without needing to wait for the update to happen automatically.
Though chip cards have been praised as being the more secure method of payment processing, their reputation has been anything but considered slow. The solutions set forth by credit card companies have dramatically reduced transaction wait times and helped speed up the process entirely. Once a merchant updates their software for Quick Chip, they will see noticeably decreased transaction times, faster checkouts, and happier customers all around.