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What c-stores should consider as the EMV deadline approaches

Published November 19, 2020


Because of the pandemic, the October 2020 EMV compliance deadline for c-stores has been extended to April 2021. And that’s good news for c-store owners and operators who need more time to make the necessary changes to their pumps. Recognizing that becoming EMV compliant is more complicated for c-stores than most other retailers, convenience and fuel retailers have been given a five-year (and now a five and a half year) extension. Now, c-stores can look at the success other retailers had in their compliance journey and apply it to their own—and there are some things you’ll want to consider as you do it.


What is EMV compliance and why should it matter to you?

Originally named after Europay, Mastercard and Visa, EMV is the microchip technology that makes debit and credit cards much more secure than the use of the magnetic stripe. The security of EMV comes from a one-time code that changes every time the card is used, making it much more difficult for a thief to steal consumer’s credit and debit care information.

Now, industry standards in the U.S. is mandating EMV compliance (there’s been wider adoption in other countries) and they are doing it for good reason: on average the magnetic stripe was costing them $400 million per year. So, what does it mean if you aren’t able to accept EMV cards? You’re very likely going to be the party that’s liable for the fraud. When a fraudulent credit or debit card is used (with an EMV chip in it) and you don’t have an EMV chip reader point-of-sale (POS) system you will be responsible for the chargeback.


The sooner you become compliant the better

While the costs of becoming EMV compliant may be holding you back, it’s clear that industry standards aren’t going to change—the more secure way to pay is here to stay. And when you delay making the change you open your store up to more risks.

Don’t become the low hanging fruit. C-stores have already become larger targets as retailers in other markets have become EMV compliant. With the ability to easily attach a skimming device to your POS at the pump and walk away, they are easy targets for thieves. Then, they can wait as your customers unwittingly give them their debit and credit card information. Now, as more and more c-stores become EMV compliant, it will make the ones that aren’t more vulnerable. 

You may have limited access to what you’ll need. The chances of another round of extended deadlines isn’t likely, so waiting until the last minute to become compliant means other c-store owners and operators could be scrambling, too. So, the most cost-effective, reliable, innovative service providers you need to help you become EMV compliant might not be available. Also, you may end having to wait months to get started—take into consideration that it is a process that takes time to order and install equipment. Take the time to look into all the hardware and software that will need to be replaced, both inside your store and in your forecourt. And, it’s also a good time to talk to your POS system provider to hear what the benefits are for becoming EMV compliant.


Explore ways to offset costs

Don’t overlook the benefits of EMV compliance. C-stores are already looking for ways to bring the nearly 70 percent of their customers who don’t make it past the pump into their stores. It presents a large opportunity to gain more revenue. That’s why many c-stores are selling more items that their customers want, like fresh produce and flowers. But, how do you let them know you’ve added new items? When you upgrade your POS at the pump you’ll have the option to go with a solution that engages with your customers with targeted ads on the screen and through your loyalty program. And when you become EMV compliant you increase your good reputation as your customers know you’re protecting their debit and credit cards.

You will save money by reducing fraud. According to Business Wire, the average cost of not being EMV compliant is approximately $208,000 per year (as estimated based on 12 location c-store businesses). But, if you’re EMV compliant you aren’t liable for any of the chargebacks.

Research and choose the best service provider with future in mind

While becoming EMV compliant is a top priority for c-stores, there are so many other changes happening in the convenience and fuel space. From the way you engage with your customers to the redesign of your forecourt, there is a lot to keep in mind about how your c-store is going to expand and how the provider you choose should support the coming changes, including:

  • Using technology that personalizes your customer’s experience and truly engages with them (think digital signage that works with tracking systems after capturing customer behavior)
  • Providing seamless curbside pickup that meets your customers growing demand for contactless, ease and convenience
  • Having a POS system that supports contactless payments and everything in your customer’s digital wallets
  • Giving your customers the choice to walk in and walk out with items in your store by paying for them

See how NCR VOYIX OPTIC can enable innovative change with the option of retrofitting your current pumps for EMV compliance for better customer engagement.


Make a solid plan and put it into action

There’s no time like the present for c-stores to get going with EMV compliance. It may seem like a big ask, but the reality is, c-stores are in an evolution, just as they go through them nearly every decade. This one just looks different with an emphasis on giving consumers more payment options and increasing engagement to convert more sales beyond the pump. And just like every other evolution, it may ding the budget, but you’ll make up for it with the right engagement solution in place.

Learn what EMV non-compliance could cost your c-store

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