Get the Latest Updates Directly

Trend Watch: Instant EMV vs Mobile Payments

April 18, 2017

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa and is a global standard for credit cards using computer chips to authenticate and secure transactions. Whether you know them as smart cards or chip cards, EMVs store their data on integrated circuits and provide instant issuance.

Mobile payments, also referred to as mobile money or mobile wallet, are payments performed with a mobile device. This service implies using a smartphone or other mobile-connected device to access an app or another payment portal to complete transactions. It does not include NFC (near field communications) or other contactless payment methods.

Why the move from magnetic strips?

Visa and MasterCard have issued a deadline to all card acceptors to replace magnetic strip card readers with Instant EMV technology by 2020 or they will face increased liability in the event of fraud.

The move has been initiated because Instant EMV eliminates fraud at the point of sale. In the US alone, we see $8 billion in credit card fraud annually. The chip card will have a huge effect on this rate as Instant EMV authenticates the card to the POS terminal and vice versa.

The growing popularity of Mobile Banking, however, has some retailers questioning the future of both payment forms. As you move forward with decisions for your own business, it’s worth the time to learn a little more about both.

Both Instant EMV and Mobile Payments have pros and cons

EMV pros

  • Security
    EMV has proven to be one of the strongest technologies for fraud prevention. The chip authenticates the card directly to the POS terminal and the terminal to the card, often requiring a signature or PIN.
  • Broad consumer support
    70% of consumers now have Instant EMV chip cards.
  • Liability shift
    As of the 2020 deadline, liability shifts responsibility for counterfeit card fraud from issuers to acquirers, and ultimately, merchants, if EMV is not offered.
  • Backwards Compatible
    Instant EMV can still accept the same magnetic swipe cards prevalent in the US for decades until EMV cards fully replace them.
  • Consumer marketing opportunities Instant EMV cards can associate reward perks or promotions directly at POS.

EMV cons

  • The cost of upgrading
    Because Instant EMV hardware is not yet at the commodity level as the old magnetic strip readers, there is an investment to have them installed. This is expected to evolve as they grow in prevalence.
  • Consumer confusion
    Change in checkout procedures and operations for your customers can cause some confusion. Be sure to choose the right Instant EMV readers for your business’ transactions and invest in consumer education.

Mobile Payment Pros

  • Secure transactions
    Mobile payments may even be safer than plastic as most apps generate a unique barcode for each transaction instead of sending card digit information.
  • Consumer convenience
    Most people take their phones with them everywhere, even when it’s not convenient to carry a wallet or purse.
  • Marketing potential
    There are many opportunities to market directly and personally to a single consumer through a payment app.
  • Cheaper
    Although still a business cost, Mobile Payment readers are generally cheaper than EMV chip card readers.

Mobile Payment Cons

  • Lower consumer support
    Only about 13% of consumers have used their devices to pay.
    Top reasons surveyed Americans have not used mobile pay include:

    • Regular methods are more convenient 45%
    • Lack of trust in security 42%
    • Not interested 38%
    • No clear benefit over regular methods 33%
  • Not always compatible
    Consumers can’t count on their phone and app being accepted by your system.

You may also want to read, “What is Instant EMV Card Issuance?

Conclusion: Be prepared

If you’re in the process of planning your evolution to Instant EMV card readers for the 2020 deadline and are weighing the pros and cons with Mobile Payments, consider the following points:

  • Instant EMV is the only form considered compliant for 2020
    At this time, Visa and MasterCard are requiring Instant EMV, whether you offer Mobile Payments or not, by 2020 to shift liability. Installing Instant EMV is the only way to comply with this requirement.
  • Instant EMV readers offer backward compatibility
    It will take years before all consumers’ credit cards are converted from magnetic strip to chip cards. Instant EMV readers can be backward compatible for magnetic strip scanning.
  • Offer both with the right hardware partner
    If possible, consider upgrading to POS systems that incorporate both Instant EMV and Mobile Payments. Consumers want payment options; in a recent study, 82% of people surveyed believed customers should have a choice in what type of payment technology they want to use.
    And 75% said retailers should accept as many different types of payment technology as possible.


Choose BLM Technologies as your Instant EMV hardware and maintenance partner.

Read more about our national reach as a powerhouse of Instant EMV hardware and how we can make your job easier.