House Small Business Committee Hearing Report -
Friday, October 23, 2015
Merchants of all sizes were required to upgrade their credit card processing technology to avoid liability for fraudulent charges by October 1st. The House Committee on Small Business held a two-part hearing series on implementation of new credit card technology designed to increase security and prevent fraud. This industry-led changeover will require all businesses to use the Europay – MasterCard - Visa (EMV) chip system to process credit card transactions. To affect this change, financial services providers will no longer be liable for instances of fraud if the merchant has not upgraded to the EMV chip system
The hearings offered interesting, and often contrasting, perspectives on this issue. At the first hearing, representatives from the financial industry praised the upgrades and highlighted the protections that the EMV chip system offers. The second hearing, featuring small business owners that need to implement these changes, revealed a much more complex situation. While witnesses at both hearings and the Committee members generally agreed that the EMV system offers more sophisticated fraud protections, implementing these modifications is a significant burden for small businesses.
Despite the outreach efforts of financial firms, small business owners are generally not aware of these changes. According to a recent study about preparedness for this changeover, less than half of small businesses were aware of the October 1st changeover deadline and liability shift.
Small businesses will have to purchase equipment to process sales using the new chips, but the required upgrades do not stop there. Integrating the new technology with point-of-sale terminals, inventory management tools, and other systems could exponentially inflate costs. Given integration, software upgrades, training, and ongoing maintenance, a quick and easy changeover is unlikely.