In early 2015, the consumer finance world was flooded with new credit cards that featured a small chip on the front. The chip promised increased security in a market that’s been under severe attack in the past few years.  Naturally, the drastic change ruffled the feathers of both consumers and retailers alike. Merchants were pushed to accommodate the EMV with new payment portals and staff training well before the set deadline. Consumers have had to learn a new way to interact with in-store payment systems. Up next, it’s time to outfit ATMs with the EMV technology. This is no easy feat and will come with some hiccups along the way.

Over 75% of Americans across the country utilize an ATM on a daily basis. It’s one of the quickest ways to get cash and eliminates the hassle of a bank or transfer process. Part of the money machine’s success is due to the fact that they’re plentiful around the community. Pop into any convenience store, shopping mall or grocery store and you’re likely to run into one. Most of your favorite machines are long standing staples in their locations and aren’t yet equipped with the chip technology. Not to worry, an updated machine will make its way there shortly.

Incentives to Switch

EMV cards became the new standard in plastic as they offer a more secure way to pay for things around town. They’re less prone to fraud and not as easy to skim information off of as the magnetic strips as payments are authorized through the computer chip. One of the largest hurdles smaller ATM companies are working to overcome the price that comes with upgrading and/or replacing outdated machines. Leading credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, have deadlines in place for fraud protection to their customers. Meaning, after the time limit is up, cases of fraud and chargebacks will be left to the ATM companies to cover the costs. MasterCard’s deadline for fraud coverage ended on October 1st of 2016, but Visa is extending coverage until late 2017.


How to Prepare

As ATM companies work to move all machines over to EMV compatibility, keep a close eye on the appearance of the machine itself and the prompts you follow. Modified machines will acknowledge that you have a chip card and ask initial questions that help route your transaction. This could mean that the buttons you’ve pressed in the past have changed locations or are no longer in the same order. (See more on this below.) If anything on the external parts of the machine looks odd, please report the suspicious appearance immediately and look for a different ATM. If you are a store or retail space owner, contact your ATM provider to learn more about the switch and what they have planned for migration.

Different Reading Methods

ATMs snag card information through one of two ways. The first being tractor style. This is where the ATM takes the card internally to read it. You likely won’t notice a difference here as the process is still done internally. The second type is referred to as dip insert. This style is more common and is also utilized across fueling stations. Updated ATMs can still offer a dip insert, the style or location of where the dip is done could change slightly. Operators prefer a dip insert because it provides a unique way to register the chip before starting the transaction, which saves time. It’s advised to take your time while using the ATM if it is a “dip insert” machine. Newcomers aren’t accustomed to having to wait for the card to process and have walked away from the automated teller before taking their card back.

Making the switch is no easy feat, and some makers might just find the task too daunting to undergo. Smaller ATM companies naturally are without the same resources and tools that big banks and credit card companies have access to. Some will ultimately decide that it isn’t worth it to pay the hefty costs and shut down the machine as a whole. Economists estimate that about 15% of the country’s ATMs are owned by independent operators. This equates to over 40,000 machines across the country.

Others who are dedicated to bringing their customers EMV compatible ATMs will come slowly but surely. As of October 2016, experts find roughly 25% of all machines to feature the new EMV reading.

Financial experts, ATM operators, makers, and host locations are working around the clock to ensure that ATMs are compatible with the new EMV cards. They’re paying extra close attention to creating a seamless user experience that also keeps safety and security as paramount.