It’s no longer breaking news that the deadline for the EMV liability shift has moved from October 2020 to April 2021; all card schemes were officially on board with this new deadline as of May 2020. This announcement is good news for gas and convenience retailers who have not yet begun their upgrade projects yet — for two reasons.
One is obvious: You have extra time to implement upgrades, although it’s advisable to start earlier than later: Conexxus found that installation costs (e.g., labor) tend to increase leading up to an industry-wide change due to high demand.
The other reason the extended deadline is good news: It’s a major opportunity to get the most bang for your buck — and meet new customer needs — by upgrading to the most modern automated fuel dispenser (AFD) technology.
Two AFD Technologies for Improved Customer Experiences
Prior to the announcement of the extended deadline, some retailers might have felt the need to rush into the fastest possible EMV solution to meet the October 2020 deadline. With this boon of extra time, retailers can consider all of their options to upgrade to technologies that customers now demand.
For example, as retailers are upgrading their pumps to be EMV chip-compliant, they can add contactless payment options at AFDs as well. US consumer interest in contactless payments has waxed and waned since contactless was introduced here in the early 2000s, but the tide has turned in recent months, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic: Mastercard found that more than half (51%) of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment.
To enable AFDs for contactless payments requires upgrading to a chip reader. In other words, by ensuring the safer, more hygienic transaction experiences that consumers now desire, retailers likewise benefit by gaining the EMV compatibility they need on their end.
Another new consumer expectation that has come out of the pandemic is the desire for curbside pickup and all-in-one ordering experiences (for example, some restaurants now function as places customers can order a chef-prepared meal as well as groceries, alcohol, and even products like paper towels and toilet paper, all in the same transaction).
Gas retailers can capitalize on this trend by adding smart interfaces to pumps that promote add-ons to gas purchases. A consumer purchasing gas at the pump can view deals and ads on a digital display — e.g., purchase 10 gallons of gas and get a large coffee and donut for another $2 — and add the deal to their gas purchase using buttons on the digital display. For retailers with kitchens inside, customers can purchase sandwiches or other food items, and even customize their order (sandwich toppings, coffee flavors, etc.). Some retailers may be able to offer curbside delivery of these items while others can simply allow customers to order outside and pick up inside, which still saves a customer time.
The ability to add items to a gas purchase via a smart display on an AFD, which requires upgrading to EMV chip readers, can significantly improve a retailer’s bottom line: While the profit margins for a gas purchase are relatively low, the margins for store/convenience items are much higher.
Both of these options will require a network connectivity backbone to ensure transactions — both at the pumps and at indoor point-of-sale solutions — are secure and protected against fraud. Look for a certified Managed Network Service Provider (MNSP) network solution that can support the hardware being installed at the pump while providing the highest levels of payment security, always-on connectivity, and 24/7/365 monitoring for not only the hardware, but also the network connection.
Use the Extra Time Wisely
Upgrading AFD equipment to be EMV compliant is not inexpensive, but it’s necessary to avoid issues like greater risk of fraud and higher costs due to increased liability.
Fortunately, retailers now have some extra time to ensure their investment in new equipment gets them the best AFD technology out there. To meet consumer demand by implementing contactless payments and add-on ordering at the pumps, a retailer also gains EMV compatibility — a win-win situation for retailers.
Dan Lyman is Head of FinTech Payments for TNS in North America. In his role, he identifies and drives all sales and business activity within his region and contributes to global strategic decisions alongside his European and Asian counterparts, and the wider TNS corporate leadership team.