MAG Insights

Announcements from the MAG & Featured Articles

EMV – What’s Happening in the Industry (MAG Quarterly- Volume Three, Issue Two)

The Merchant Advisory Group recently completed a blind survey of its membership to determine EMV implementation plans as well as to discover concerns relative to implementation. As anticipated, EMV implementation is not as far along as proclaimed by many members of the payments industry, primarily due to the failure of the international card brands to agree to participate in a common application for U.S. debit card processing.

While there are numerous stories in the payments news purporting to report on the state of merchant EMV readiness, we believe our recent poll is the most accurate and unbiased. We caution members to discount other polls conducted by parties with the apparent design of proving the state of EMV readiness is much more advanced than the reality.

EMV Readiness by 10/1/2015:

  • 29% answered yes, when asked whether they would implement EMV before the liability shift date. 
  • Only half of them (15% of the merchants) were confident about achieving “full” implementation by 10/1/2015.

Barriers to EMV Implementation:

  • 45% cited barriers with EMV implementation: (28.2%) missing debit specs and (16.9%) inadequate timeline.
  • 32% cited Lack of PIN – making EMV of limited or of no value.

Ability to utilize Durbin’s alternative routing rights:

  • 72% answered either outright “No or Don’t know”.

Complexity of the EMV project:

  • 95% merchants rated it as complex – 57% extremely complex; 24% very complex; 15% as complex.

Expensive as compared to other projects:

  • 98% rated it very expensive – 68% extremely expensive; 19% very expensive; 12% rated expensive.

Importance – EMV’s value proposition relative to other Projects:

  • 77% rated EMV’s value proposition as “Not valuable” (low ROI) as the absence of PIN significantly restricted EMV’s fraud control potential.

Disruption – to the Check-out process & customer experience:

  • 96% rated as disruptive to their business with no visible benefit in view of low ROI, high complexity and overall expense to implement. 


  1. MAG merchants were surveyed in mid-February 2015, about seven months before EMV liability shift date. 
  2. Survey results were gathered using an anonymous electronic response method.