Update on EMV Migration in the US: Leaving the Station and Building Up Steam

by Zilvinas Bareisis, December 12, 2014
Industry Trends
North America


EMV migration in the US is finally showing good signs of progress. This report looks back at the major barriers Celent identified last year and examines what has changed in the last 12 months.

In November 2013 Celent published a report called EMV Migration in the US Progress Report: What Progress? Indeed, at the time, there was a discernible lack of progress despite the efforts of card networks and industry bodies, such as Smart Card Alliance. A year later, the situation is markedly different, with good progress being made on all fronts.

In the new report Update on EMV Migration in the US: Leaving the Station and Building Up Steam, Celent reviews how the industry has been dismantling the barriers to EMV over the last 12 months. It also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section based on queries we receive from our clients considering EMV strategies. Finally, the report sheds light on some of the questions we get about advanced EMV capabilities, such as profile management and scripting, PIN management, and multi-application cards.

“The US EMV train has finally left the station and is building up steam,” says Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent’s Banking practice and author of the report. “If you are an issuer and are yet to get on board, now is the time.”

As we predicted last year, most issuers are focused on basic EMV capabilities and on issuing the first wave of basic EMV cards. Such a “walk before running” strategy is sensible for most issuers, particularly those that rely on third party processors for managing their relatively small portfolios. However, those that plan further ahead and consider utilizing more advanced features of EMV, such as updating authorization engines to make use of additional data, or deploying scripting to better manage the card over its lifecycle, are likely to yield a better return on their EMV investment.

Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary




Looking Back: Barriers to EMV and Celent Predictions in 2013


Dismantling EMV Adoption Barriers: 2014 Reality



Data Breaches Breaking Merchant Reluctance



Customer Comfort Outweighing Issuer Economic Concerns



Reconciling EMV and Reg II



Breathing Life Into “Old Technology”



Emerging Agreement on Standards


Managing EMV Cards: Advanced Topics



Card Profiling, Scripting, and PIN Management



Multi-Application Cards


A Few Other Frequently Asked Questions


Path Forward


Leveraging Celent’s Expertise



Support for Financial Institutions



Support for Vendors


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