SOURCE: The Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance

March 01, 2010 13:10 ET

EMV and Transit Chip Payment Gaining Momentum in U.S.

Smart Card Alliance 2010 Payments Summit Highlights

PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ--(Marketwire - March 1, 2010) - Contactless payment is now the de facto standard for U.S. transit fare collection systems, and will likely become a principal market driver for the expansion of bank-issued contactless cards. But that is just one of many factors building interest in the United States around chip cards for payments, according to experts presenting at the Smart Card 3rd Annual Payments Summit. The event was held February 23rd - 25th, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Contactless in Transit
Contactless fare systems installed by U.S. transit operators will help pave the way for broader contactless acceptance here and elsewhere in the world.

  • Charlie Craven, vice president, American Express: "Transit can be a great help to drive acceptance of contactless around the world. Daily use of the cards in transit will help consumers understand the benefits of contactless." He also cited an American Express study that showed there are 118 contactless or mobile pilots worldwide.
  • Des Docherty, vice president, Visa, pointed out that in New York City all 13,000 taxicabs accept contactless and over the next few years all of the MTA buses and transit systems will too, concluding: "If I'm a merchant within that footprint, doesn't it make sense for me now to start implementing?"
  • Oliver Manahan, vice president, MasterCard: "We have 12 U.S. airports deploying contactless PayPass acceptance." MasterCard has issued 70 million PayPass cards worldwide, most of them in the U.S.

Representatives from transit agencies in Toronto, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Utah, San Francisco Bay Area, and New York City reported on their current contactless fare collection systems and plans. Steve Frazzini, chief officer of AFC program management, New York City Transit, reported that an expanded open payments pilot that will include New York City Transit, PATH and New Jersey transit is targeted to start mid-year and will include a service area that includes 1.4 million riders.

Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are very exciting to everyone, including retailers, and is regarded as another important driver that will continue expanding the contactless market. Retailers are motivated by the other mobile applications that complement mobile payment such as coupons, loyalty programs and location-based services that drive people into their locations.

  • Mohammad Khan, ViVOTech: "The Holy Grail will be when tens of millions of NFC mobile phones show up in the U.S. The whole industry will move then. That won't happen over the next 12 months, but it will absolutely happen over the next 36 months." 
  • Jennifer Garcia, Discover Financial Services, reported on the successful test of Discover Zip contactless stickers and said there's no reason to wait for NFC phones: "Our pilot confirmed stickers are a simple and easy bridge solution to the NFC logjam."
  • Dave Wentker, head of proximity payments, Visa: "The future of NFC is bright."

International Traveler EMV Card
Several industry experts predicted that the next U.S. chip-based bank card would be an EMV card for international travelers who increasingly find situations where they cannot use their magnetic stripe card when abroad, particularly in Europe.

Merchant Acceptance
Merchant acceptance of contactless cards today, and their receptiveness to eventually using chip cards for security reasons, were actively discussed topics in several sessions. 

Dodd Roberts, president of the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG), an organization of large U.S. retailers, made a strongly reasoned call to action for all of the stakeholders to sit together and finalize a strategy. Focusing on security, Roberts argued that retailers are willing to invest, but what is holding them back is confidence in a technology roadmap that has an end point agreed upon by all the stakeholders.

Putting up a slide that showed a winding U.S. payment technology path that included end-to-end encryption, tokenization, contactless and EMV technology, Roberts said, "You have merchants out here on this road and everyone is in different places and trying to figure out what they invest in, why and when."

When asked what it would take to get retailers on board, Roberts answered, "If I'm that retailer, I know at some point in the future I have to invest to be EMV capable. I see that as a foregone conclusion. To move that up in my timeline, I'd need to know everyone is on board -- here's the timeline, here's the roadmap, here's where you are going and here's the date."

Roberts drew parallels to the Program Management Office established by all of the stakeholders in Canada as they planned their migration to EMV. He said it's a good idea to establish something like that in the U.S., and invited all of the other stakeholders to come together and agree on one plan.

One reason for the step approach was presented succinctly by Robert Carr, CEO of Heartland Payments Systems. Though fully supportive of EMV as the ultimate end point, he argued that the industry can't get there fast enough, pointing out that Canada's 'fast' EMV implementation took eight years.

Carr has worked toward the goal of making Heartland the most secure payment processor in the world, and has moved toward end-to-end encryption because it is a solution that his company could get to market quickly and unilaterally, though they have tried to make it a standard. 

Carr also worked to foster information sharing on attack vectors used by criminals through a new organization he helped to create, the Payments Processing Information Sharing Council. In the past, this information was not shared in the industry, and created a situation where criminals could repeat the same attacks on different organizations. In Carr's view, being secure should be a competitive advantage, but knowing how criminals are attacking the industry should not be.

The Payments Summit brings together members of the Smart Card Alliance's Contactless and Mobile Payments Council and Transportation Council. These councils include representatives from transportation authorities, issuing banks and payment brands, retailers, mobile technology suppliers, chip and card manufacturers, terminal manufacturers, payments processors, and transit and payment systems integrators. 

About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. 

Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. The Smart Card Alliance also offers the Leadership, Education and Advancement Program (LEAP) and Certified Smart Card Industry Professional (CSCIP) program for individuals who are involved in the smart card industry. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.

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