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Hurry up and wait: the debit EMV journey

Despite industry delays, credit unions should move forward with their transition to debit EMV

By: Matt Cole, PSCU Member Development Executive

Matt ColeJune 23, 2015 -- If you’ve traveled via airplane recently, you can appreciate the controlled chaos that goes on in an airport. If you’re like me, you have to be early to your gate, just in case something happens. For me, that means leaving my house early, getting through security as quickly as possible, checking what gate my flight leaves from, and then booking it to that gate. When I arrive at my gate, I can finally relax. “I’ve made it,” I think to myself. “Nothing to do now but wait.”

As most of you can appreciate, making it to the gate is only half of the battle; the rest is out of your hands. What if there’s a flight delay? What if the plane needs maintenance (always comforting) or, what if (and this one happened to me recently), the crew is just too tired to fly?

These days air travel can be one big game of “hurry up and wait.” The same can be said for debit EMV. Since it was first announced, debit EMV has been the subject of many discussions, articles, and even rumors. So what’s the hold up?

Understanding the delay

Unlike credit, the certification and implementation of debit EMV involves more impacted parties.

First, we encountered the debate of having multiple account identifiers (AIDs) on a debit card versus the EMV credit program. Once we resolved this challenge, credit unions now need to ensure their networks, cores, plastics, and processors (just to name a few) are prepared to implement/certify their debit program.

Couple these factors with the fact that debit cards far outweigh credit when it comes to sheer volume, and you can see why there has been a delay in getting EMV debit cards out the door and into your member’s hands. However, that does not mean you should wait to move your credit union forward with debit EMV.

Continuing to move forward with EMV preparation

As an integral partner with your card processor, it is my hope that by now, you’ve had one, if not several, discussions with your cards processor about EMV. If this is not the case, I strongly encourage you to pick up the phone after finishing this article and have a discussion with them. While it’s true that most, if not all, processors have an established queue for debit EMV projects, most expect to have their first EMV debit cards in member’s hands in the next 60 days. From there, project teams around the nation will continue to work debit EMV certifications far into 2016 and, most likely, into early 2017.

Said candidly, there is no real benefit to waiting on debit EMV. It’s important to note that EMV certification lasts at least 150 days and, more than likely, you’ll be placed in a queue, such as the one mentioned above when you do sign up for EMV. Acting on debit EMV now allows you to plan in advance how EMV will impact your credit union. You’ll need to consider such items as reissue strategy, profiles, staff education and, possibly most importantly, member education.

Making sure your members are on board

It’s almost a guarantee that yours is not the only plastic currently sitting in your members’ wallets or purses. And soon, if not already, your members will begin to receive new cards with new chips from their other providers. Along with those new cards will most likely be an insert, informing your member that their security is of utmost importance, and that is why their card has been upgraded to the new chip card.

You can see where I am going with this. In short, you don’t want to be the only issuer on the block not protecting your members’ accounts by not issuing them a new EMV-ready card.

In closing, every credit union should be in the EMV queue at this time. What was once shrouded in speculation and uncertainty has been resolved and made clear. When it comes to debit EMV, there are no more delays, no more gate changes; the crew is ready to go, and the plane is now boarding.

 

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