Small businesses surveyed on EMV awareness, many still unclear on liability shift

A survey of management-level employees at small businesses in the U.S. found that 42 percent were unaware of the EMV liability shift deadline this October.

The EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) deadline will shift the liability for card-present fraud to merchants, which have not updated their systems to accept chip-and-pin or chip-and-signature cards, as opposed to such costs falling upon payment processors or issuing banks, as has been the case. Published last week, the survey was commissioned by financial management solutions firm Intuit and fielded in April by Ebiquity, a data analysis company that polled 504 owner or manager-level workers at small businesses employing 1 to 100 employees.

The survey also said that "85% of small business owners who will not migrate to an EMV compatible system, or have not yet decided to do so, are unaware of the financial and legal liabilities they will be responsible for."

More than half of respondents, 57 percent, said that the cost of buying new terminals or card readers was the top factor preventing them from upgrading (or planning to upgrade) to an EMV-compatible solution.

Ralph Matlack, director of product management and payment offerings at Intuit, told on Friday that the findings on EMV awareness were “not surprising at all.” When talking with clients, he finds that there is sometimes a “complete lack of awareness – or some sense of awareness that is often paired with some misunderstanding of what the [liability shift] means,” he explained.

For instance, some businesses believed that the October deadline was a mandate, Matlack explained.

“The approach we want to take is let's really focus on education and present the facts in as clear a way as possible,” he added later, saying that the U.S. adoption of EMV would likely be slow process, as it has been in other countries, including Canada.

Back in April, Forrester Research predicted that widespread EMV adoption in the U.S. wouldn't occur until 2020, despite the approaching deadline.

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