Retail Associations Demand That Visa Fix Flawed EMV Rollout

In the wake of new guidance from the Federal Reserve, which suggests that aspects of Visa’s implementation of chip card technology may be illegal, a coalition of retailers has called on the card processor to fix issues with EMV’s controversial rollout.

With new guidance from the Federal Reserve working in their favor, retail associations want answers regarding the migration to EMV chip card payment technology that their members have been working to comply with for more than a year.

Earlier this month, the Fed added to its website new comments specific to the EMV transition. In a related FAQ, the agency notes that payment-card networks don’t comply with the Electronic Fund Transfer Act if the new payment terminals installed in retail stores require that payments are routed through a specific payment processor.

“A payment card network inhibits a merchant’s ability to route electronic debit card transactions if it, by network rules, standards, specifications, contractual agreements, or otherwise, requires the merchant to allow the cardholder to make the choice of EMV chip application on a debit card, where one application routes only to a single network,” the Federal Reserve stated.

This week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Retail Federation, and multiple other retail groups sent a letter to Visa CEO Charles W. Scharf and CEO-designate Al Kelly, asking for information on how the company will respond to the Fed’s ruling.

“This free market principle of merchants choosing network services and providers is critical to ensuring competition in the debit market,” the letter stated. “Visa should compete for merchant routing preference in the way that businesses do in a competitive market—by offering superior benefits, lower costs, and better security, such as chip and PIN. Visa used its overwhelming market share to impose their proprietary EMV chip technology that stifles competition.”

Among other things, the associations called on Visa to open up its EMV implementation, delay the liability shift to retailers that took place last year, and fix the implementation for retailers that have terminals set up in this way.

“The rollout of EMV technology has been woefully mismanaged by the card networks,” the groups concluded. “The Federal Reserve declaration is the latest in a long list of examples of that mismanagement.”

The associations’ letter followed on the heels of Visa’s revelation, contained in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, that its EMV rollout was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. The company says it is cooperating with the investigation.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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