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EMV compliance in restaurants

EMV is quickly becoming a global standard for all payment and processing. With card security being an ongoing concern in restaurants, the shift to EMV chip compliance isn’t just a nice-to-have feature for restaurant POS systems—it’s on its way to becoming mandatory. As major information hacks continue to crop up, consumers are more and more aware of where their information is going and how vulnerable it is every time they swipe their card.

Imagine the toll it would take on your business if your restaurant was the epicenter of a data breach. Not only would you have a major (and expensive) mess on your hands, you’d also risk your good reputation. Since this scenario is easily avoidable with EMV compliance, it’s worth it to at least investigate the option.

Whether you’re ready to make the leap to an EMV restaurant or you’re looking to get ahead of the game as you open a brand new place, here’s a crash course on EMV compliance that all restaurateurs, from fast food to fine dining, should know.


What Does EMV Compliance Mean?

EMV compliance simply means that you have upgraded your restaurant POS to include an EMV chip reader. If you can accept credit cards by inserting a chip instead of swiping a magnetic strip, then you are EMV compliant!

EMV has been a common sight in retail locations since becoming a global initiative in late 2015, but its technology dates back to the 1990s. Named on behalf of its developers Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, EMV chip technology was implemented to help enhance security through the embedding of cardholder information. All credit cards are essentially little memory banks of information. The magnetic strip and embedded chip are where all the cardholder’s payment information and electronic data is stored.

Where magnetic strip technology continues to be prone to hacking, embedded chip cards are magnitudes safer with encryption that is nearly impossible to hack and helps to prevent counterfeiting. While most cards have both stripes and chips at the moment, we are on the road to chip-only payments. Like smartphones replacing flip phones, it’s simply the direction technology is moving.

The United States was one of the last nations to adopt EMV technology, but worldwide credit card fraud has dropped significantly since its implementation.

What’s the difference between EMV and NFC?

As we said, EMV is an acronym for Europay, MasterCard, Visa, and refers to the security chip standard in credit cards versus the outdated magnetic strip.

When reading about EMV you may also hear the acronym NFC, which stands for Near-field Communications. This is the technology that enables data to be transferred by two compatible machines that do not actually touch. Examples of this are Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Is EMV just for credit cards and NFC just for mobile phones?

No, this is a common misconception. EMV is associated most closely with credit cards and NFC with mobile phones, but technically both technologies can be used with each payment option. For example, the chip that makes NFC payments possible in mobile phones also can be used for contactless chip cards. Likewise, the EMV encryption technology is used to protect information on both types of payments.

Why Should I Make My Restaurant EMV Compliant?

The reason why these credit card companies got together to create EMV chips was to reduce the number of fraud payouts they are liable for. In most cases, any retailer that doesn’t have an EMV compliant system will now be responsible for fraud such as chargebacks, where in the past it was the credit card companies on the hook for those losses.

While the chances of having to repay massive fraudulent charges in a restaurant are slim, there’s a possibility that you could find yourself having to pay chargeback amounts if a user with a fraudulent card gets through your stripe-only system. How much money that ends up costing you depends on the business you run; it could be as small as a breakfast sandwich or as massive as a fine dining meal for eight. But even if the charge is something as small as a latte, those small costs can add up over time, compounded even further for restaurants, since operating on razor-thin margins is the norm. 

4 Tips for Easier EMV Compliance in Your Restaurant

1. Train your staff on EMV compliance

It’s critical that you train your entire staff thoroughly when it comes to any new tech changes. For an update this substantial, schedule a team training session to get everyone on the same page at once and answer everyone’s questions together. Be sure that shift managers have even more rigorous training so that there is always an expert on hand at each shift.

2. Help your guests understand EMV compliance

EMV implementation is not just about training your staff, it’s also about informing your guests. Businesses have adopted this technology at different paces and in different capacities, so your guests may have questions. Train staff to explain any new procedures to your guests, and be sure they explain that this technology is beneficial to both of you as it makes transactions secure and cuts down on fraud.

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3. Keep an eye out for fraud

Train your staff to keep an eye out for fraudulent cards. Cards that contain only a magnetic strip and no EMV chip are increasingly rare, so these should raise some cautionary red flags. Make sure the staff is asking for IDs, and if a card is declined, ask for a new form of payment.

4. Plan ahead

It’s likely that we’ll start to move toward a pay and PIN option, as opposed to the current pay and sign procedure. If you’re making a big investment in your restaurant’s technology for EMV implementation, be sure that the technology you select can grow with you into the future.

How Your Restaurant POS Can Help With EMV Compliance

Most cloud-based restaurant POS systems include EMV compatibility giving you a laundry list of options beyond sales, yet the experience remains unchanged for customers. Using a “chip and signature” method, your customers won’t notice any difference in how the bill is paid, split, tipped upon, or confirmed. But they will enjoy the comfort of knowing their information is securely encrypted and safe.

See How Upserve Can Help With Your Restaurant's EMV Compliance!

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Written by   |  
Stephanie is a Providence, RI native and eight-year food industry veteran. As Upserve's Content Marketing Coordinator she creates materials that help restaurateurs, managers, and service professionals succeed. When she's not writing, Stephanie is most likely traveling, cooking, or trying new restaurants.
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