Ig­nor­ing the EMV Dead­line

The EMV dead­line was al­ways op­tional, as long as mer­chants were will­ing to take on ad­di­tional fraud risk. For one mer­chant, an­other up­grade took pri­or­ity.


As a large fur­ni­ture re­tailer in South Florida, City Fur­ni­ture had to de­cide whether to move quickly to up­grade ter­mi­nals and avoid the Oc­to­ber 2015 EMV chip card li­a­bil­ity shift, or stay on track with a process it was al­ready en­gaged in for a mo­bile point of sale sys­tem in its show­rooms.

It chose the lat­ter, and now con­sid­ers it­self fu­ture proof and in a po­si­tion to give cus­tomers an im­proved pay­ment ex­pe­ri­ence through an In­genico mo­bile POS card reader and ipad-based pay­ment sys­tem.

“At the time of the huge EMV push, we al­lowed the li­a­bil­ity to shift to us as the mer­chant be­cause we weren’t go­ing to be forced into the dead­line, know­ing we had this mo­bile de­vel­op­ment forth­com­ing,” said Steve Wilder, chief fi­nan­cial and in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for City Fur­ni­ture.

City Fur­ni­ture was able to get its back-end sys­tem part­ner IBM to sit down at a con­fer­ence table with Ap­ple Inc. in Cu­per­tino more than a year ago to help de­sign the best way for ipads to com­mu­ni­cate with IBM equip­ment, Wilder said.

It uses the up­graded In­genico RP750X mo­bile POS.

Many re­tail­ers likely felt the same pres­sure to ei­ther shift solely to EMV or hold out for some­thing more ro­bust, with some ex­per­i­ment­ing with mo­bile wal­let apps and oth­ers sim­ply try­ing to de­ter­mine whether Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion or some other mo­bile tech­nol­ogy made more sense.

The de­ci­sion ac­tu­ally gets sim­pler with time, said Thad Peter­son, se­nior an­a­lyst with Bos­ton-based Aite Group.

“Ev­ery day that goes by, it gets eas­ier to im­ple­ment EMV as it gets more stan­dard­ized and there are more so­lu­tions around to ac­com­mo­date it,” Peter­son said.

Many hard­ware ven­dors also saw the EMV shift as a way to in­tro­duce other new tech­nolo­gies as part of a sin­gle hard­ware up­grade.

Thus, a mer­chant that wanted to sup­port mo­bile wal­lets with NFC or QR codes would be able to get EMV card ac­cep­tance as part of the same de­ploy­ment.

City Fur­ni­ture’s jour­ney points to how “old school” the fur­ni­ture in­dus­try can be in its pay­ments and back-of­fice net­works if a re­tailer chooses to stick with legacy equip­ment, Peter­son added.

“It’s also an in­di­ca­tion of the chal-

lenges re­tail­ers face with omni com­merce,” he said. “A new sys­tem can be el­e­gant in the store, but it has to be linked very closely to what is go­ing on with their on­line pres­ence.”

For City Fur­ni­ture, it was far more im­por­tant to take a big step away from its cur­rent sys­tem and make the con­ver­sion to some­thing fu­ture-proof than to sim­ply have EMV bolted on, Wilder said.

“We wanted to move away from the green [POS] screen and drag­ging the cus­tomer back to a desk to be able to get in­for­ma­tion and for them to be able to pay,” he said.

The In­genico reader and Blue­tooth con­nected ipad will al­low that, be­ing small enough for sales staff to move around the show­room floor and ac­cept magstripe, EMV, PIN debit and NFC tap-and-pay.

City Fur­ni­ture will run up to 90 ap­pli­ca­tions in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with back­of­fice IBM equip­ment and Mo­bile­first apps, and is in a po­si­tion to ad­vance its om­nichan­nel pres­ence through In­genico Group’s MPOS EMV soft­ware de­vel­op­ment kit and de­cryp­tion web ser­vice.

Of crit­i­cal im­por­tance is that the In­genico soft­ware will al­low the 15 City Fur­ni­ture and 12 Ash­ley Fur­ni­ture show­rooms in South Florida to ac­cept and de­crypt the com­pany’s pri­vate la­bel fi­nance cards and gift cards.

“We knew we didn’t want a bulky one­pound sled [tablet] for this project,” said Chad Simp­son, busi­ness and re­search an­a­lyst at City Fur­ni­ture.

“Those get set down, and em­ploy­ees for­get about us­ing them. That would have been a com­plete fail­ure for us,” Simp­son said.

Rather, the com­pany sought to “knock peo­ple’s socks off” with how sleek the op­er­a­tion was and how easy it was to ini­ti­ate and ac­cept pay­ments in the store, Simp­son said.

“We did not take any steps back in this process,” Simp­son said. “We are tak­ing all pay­ment types now, and pre­vi­ously we only took magstripe credit and debit.”

Ul­ti­mately, City Fur­ni­ture con­cludes it was in the right place at the right time. IBM and Ap­ple, two fierce com­peti­tors, came to­gether to work with the re­tailer, and not long af­ter­ward In­genico re­leased its mo­bile POS card reader and SDK.

City Fur­ni­ture fi­nally re­ceived its EMV cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in the sum­mer of 2016. “The tim­ing just worked in our fa­vor. We were very for­tu­nate,” Wilder said.”

“We weren’t go­ing to be forced into the dead­line, know­ing we had this mo­bile de­vel­op­ment forth­com­ing,” said Steve Wi­dler, chief fi­nan­cial and in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer of City Fur­ni­ture.

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