With the upcoming EMV transition deadline for merchants fast approaching, we decided to take an in-depth look at what this migration is all about – and particularly whether it is really in merchants’ best interests to adopt EMV. We thought it would be a quick, straightforward set of conversations. We were wrong.

On occasion these research projects surprise us. None more so than this one. These conversations were some of the most frank and open we have had at Securosis. Each time we vetted a controversial opinion with other sources, we learned something else new along the way. It wasn’t just that we heard different perspectives – we got an earful on every gripe, complaint, irritant, and oxymoron in the industry. We also developed a real breakdown of how each stakeholder in the payment industry makes its money, and when EMV would change things. We got a deep education on what each of the various stakeholders in the industry really thinks this EMV shift means, and what they see behind the scenes – both good and bad. When you piece it all together, the pattern that emerges is pretty cool!

It’s only when you look beyond the terminal migration, and examine the long term implications, does the value proposition become clear. During our research, as we dug into less advertised systemic advances in the full EMV specification for terminals and tokenization, did we realize this migration is more about meeting future customer needs than a short-term fraud or liability problem. The migration is intended to bring payment into the future, and includes a wealth of advantages for merchants, which are delivered with minimal to no operational disruption

And as we are airing a bit of dirty laundry – anonymously, but to underscore points in the research – we understand this research will be controversial. Most stakeholders will have problems with some of the content, which is why when we finished the project, we were fairly certain nobody in the industry would touch this research with a 20’ pole. We attempted to fairly represent all sides in the debates around the EMV rollout, and to objectively explain the benefits and deficits. When you put it all together, we think this paints a good picture of where the industry as a whole is going. And from our perspective, it’s all for the better!

Here’s a link directly to the paper, and to its landing page in our research library.

We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!