Big changes are coming to your point-of-sale (POS) process this October as consumers receive EMV-chip credit and debit cards from their banks to replace all magnetic stripe-only cards. And recent reports show that a disproportionate number of restaurant owners still aren’t aware of the impending deadline or what equipment they need to procure to become EMV-compliant. If you are curious about the origins of EMV technology or how it works, we’ve laid it all out for you.
But having a successful transition to the new standard is not just about purchasing a new POS system. Training your staff to be knowledgeable and helpful about the new requirements will ensure a smooth adoption for both you and your customers.
It’s particularly important to give your entire team a chance at hands-on training with the actual equipment before juggling tables, plates, orders, and transactions all at once. Familiarity with both the cards themselves and the readers will go a long way toward ensuring a positive experience for all involved.
What follows are five essential lessons managers should ensure every employee learns before implementing your new EMV-compliant POS system.
1. Know what the EMV chip looks like.
Being able to recognize an EMV-chip card at a glance is probably the most critical thing your staff can learn. Especially this year — when so many consumers will be transferring from cards with magnetic stripes to those with both magnetic stripes and EMV-enabled chips — it will be important to spot the chip right away to start every transaction off on the right foot.
Why is it important to use a chip reader if the card still has the magnetic stripe, anyway? Because in the past, credit card issuers have accepted liability for fraudulent charges on cards solely equipped with magnetic stripes.
But as of October 2015, this financial responsibility, once accepted by the credit card issuers, will shift to the credit card vendor (either the merchant’s acquirer or acquirer/processor) — who may in turn pass this fee back to the merchant — if a chip card is used at a stripe-only terminal.* That’s a potentially huge burden for restaurant owners that you want your employees to know how to avoid.
2. Do you insert or tap the card?
There are two ways an EMV-enabled credit card can be read, and different readers will incorporate one, the other, or both into their designs. In all cases, it is critical that the customer not put his or her credit card away until the transaction is complete.
If your reader requires insertion, the card must be “dipped” into the available slot in the reader unit and remain inside the entire time a transaction is proceeding. The transaction is read back and forth between the chip and the unit until complete. If the card is removed mid-transaction, the process will need to be done all over again.
If your reader supports quick-pay tapping, the card must be “tapped” or waved near the unit to initiate the transaction, taking advantage of near field communication. In other words, the reader will communicate with the card wirelessly, as long as the card is in close range. Most American banks are solely issuing cards that require contact, but as contactless chips are already in use across Europe, it’s only a matter of time before they are integrated into the American market.
3. Does it need a PIN or a signature?
Sixty percent of EMV-enabled credit cards throughout Europe operate much like American debit cards have to date in that they require a unique four-digit personal identification number (PIN) to proceed with authorization.
The other forty percent process like a standard magnetic stripe card in that they require a signature upon completion of the transaction. It seems logical that a majority would be protected by PIN, as it is much more difficult for perpetrators of fraud to guess four random digits than to forge a signature.
However, early reports surmise that the proportion of PIN to signature-required cards will be flipped for American distribution — that is, more cards will be shipped with a signature requirement than a PIN. Why? There’s a sense in the financial community that teaching consumers two things at once — to dip their card and to authorize with a PIN — is too difficult for the American audience.
Be that as it may, it’s important for your staff to understand that there are two types of cards and that it may not be immediately apparent, even to the customer, which one is presented. Also, be aware that some new POS systems may only be able to handle signature-based transactions. Be sure to investigate the options with your vendor so that you and your employees can be fully prepared.
4. Leave the card in the customer’s hands.
If your quick-service establishment requires ordering and payment as food is prepared across the counter, this expectation shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you. But leaving your customer’s credit or debit card in their possession throughout the transaction may feel odd at first to full-service restaurants, where servers will customarily take the customer’s card and run it on a centralized POS terminal.
Because the technology of the EMV-enabled card requires either a PIN or a signature, most of the newest POS systems for restaurants are designed to be brought table-side for personalized consumer use. This ups the ante on training staff quite a bit. It also requires you to add an extra step to your open and close procedures: establishing a cleaning routine for these customer-handled devices, and securing or issuing the terminals at open, shift change, and close.
What this development also complicates is the tipping scenario. For security purposes, the EMV-enabled transaction cannot be amended to add a tip after authorization, so one of two things have to occur: either the customer verbally tells the server what to key into the reader for a tip, or the server allows the customer to key in the tip themselves on top of the total bill amount.
Either one of these scenarios may be uncomfortable at first for both the server and your diner. Teaching your staff how to negotiate this interaction is going to be just as important as managing the technology accurately.
One positive for both you and your customer, however, is that tableside charging can help eliminates suspicion surrounding credit card fraud that restaurants are plagued with more than most other industries. The uneasiness that comes with a server walking away with your credit or debit card can be put to rest, as can the restaurant manager’s nervousness about potential accusations.
5. Be prepared to educate your customers, too.
The truth is that this change to EMV-enabled credit and debit cards isn’t just going to be an adjustment for your employees. It’s quite possible that most customers coming through your doors in the next few months will have only recently received an EMV-chip card and will be using it for the first time with you.
Training your employees to be patient with the learning curve on the customer side is going to be critical not just for successful transactions, but also to maintain your establishment’s reputation as a welcoming and comforting place to eat, relax, and return to again and again.
Below are a few key do’s and don’ts your staff should expect to share with customers in the early stages of adoption:
- Don’t forget your card in the machine when you walk away.
- Do leave your card inside the machine for the duration of the transaction.
- Do pay attention to prompts on the reader screen for PIN or signature instructions.
- Don’t just swipe with the magnetic reader. Your card has greater protection against fraud when you use the EMV-chip reader.
Still need to get outfitted with an EMV-enabled POS system and not sure how to swing the expense? Purchasing new equipment is just one of many things a merchant cash advance can be used for.
*EMV liability shift does not apply to card-not-present transactions, lost and stolen fraud, or certain card technologies such as Visa payWave. For details, contact your payment card processor or visit www.visachip.com.