Only 37% of Retailers in the US Can Process Chip-Embedded Cards, Survey Says

by Sarah Grotta 0

Several new surveys have been discussed in the media regarding the state of the EMV migration in the U.S. Ars Technica reported on The Strawhecker Group (TSG) survey indicating that 37% of merchants are now processing chip transactions:

Shortly before October 1, 2015, The Strawhecker Group surveyed payment service providers that collectively worked with more than a quarter of the merchants in the US. It found that only 27 percent of those merchants had a plan in place to allow them to process EMV-based transactions as of October 1, 2015. While a 10-percent jump in EMV-ready merchants in four months might seem like a positive development, TSG at the time predicted that 40 percent of merchants would be EMV-ready by now. (It should be noted that TSG’s sample for its January 2016 survey was larger than its September survey sample—this time around the consultancy surveyed payment service providers that represented about 50 percent of the US card-accepting market.)

It appears that this survey looks at the number of merchants, not necessarily the number of locations or terminals. Still, it has been a sluggish and somewhat painful transition that has included slowdowns and backlogs with some terminal manufacturers, processors, testing and certification providers.

Now that the holiday rush is over we are aware of many more retailers, including large retailers that will be among those who migrate this quarter and next. Let’s not forget that it took other countries who were in fact mandated to adopt EMV several years to achieve over 50% penetration. TSG also anticipates a pick-up in EMV activity:

TSG estimates that 50 percent of merchants will have EMV-equipped terminals by June 2016, but it also expects that the US won’t reach a 90 percent threshold until 2017.

What would be interesting to know now is the percentage of merchants who are not just migrating to EMV, but also enabling NFC payments.

Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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