Speed Optimization at the Point of Sale

January 15, 2020

bartender enters order on point of sale with credit card

While the 2015 fraud liability shift has increased chip card adoption in the United States, consumers and merchants alike still express frustration with a major drawback of EMV technology: slow transaction times at the point of sale.

Unlike magnetic stripe cards, chip cards need to be inserted for a long period of time until the transaction goes through. Transaction times can vary by chip card issuer, POS system, and merchant but may take up to 15 seconds or longer, increasing wait times and slowing down the checkout process.

Chip adoption has been slow; in 2019, just 68% of U.S. merchants who accept cards have adopted chip technology and just 67% of total Visa cards issued are EMV-enabled. Consumer dissatisfaction is just one of the reasons for this slow transition in addition to the cost to merchants to upgrade POS systems. Merchants that are EMV-ready are experiencing significant slowdowns in transaction time.

Chip technology is designed to increase card processing security, not speed; by improving card-terminal authentication and reducing the risk of fraud, chip technology adds to point of sale transaction time.

several point of sale systemsQuick Chip and M/Chip Fast: The Card Issuer Response to Slow Chip Transactions

Credit card issuers have responded to slow transaction times with “faster EMV.” Discover, Visa, and American Express offer Quick Chip while Mastercard offers M/Chip Fast. This update mimics traditional magnetic stripe swipes by allowing for pre-dip and faster card removal before the total transaction amount is known while maintaining most of the security benefits of chip technology.

The Quick Chip software update is one of the simplest ways for merchants to optimize transaction times. With the update, the point of sale system retains the chip data while requesting an authorization or ARQC. When the authorization is returned by the card’s chip, the terminal will prompt the customer to remove the card. The authorization may be for a provisional transaction amount of what has been scanned if the process occurs in the middle of the terminal.

The Quick Chip update is only available for merchants in the U.S. and it requires an update of the point of sale software through the processor. It will only work when the system is online as well.

Contactless Payments: A Faster Alternative

Contactless payments are faster than both chip and mag swipe transactions. Contactless chip cards, which offer the same security of chip transactions, offer customers a much faster checkout experience. Most point of sale systems that support chip payments also support contactless EMV payments as well. By offering contactless payments as an option, merchants can give consumers a faster option to pay and reduce checkout times.

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Categories: Payment Processing, Point of Sale Systems, POS

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