The deadline to force merchants, payment systems and cash access providers to make their products and networks compatible to Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chip cards has passed, with many still needing to make the shift. Darren Simmons, senior vice president of payments solutions for Everi, sat down with Casino JournalEditor Paul Doocey to discuss the EMV chip mandate and how the company is augmenting its line of cash handling products to meet this new security standard for consumer credit and debit cards. Below are some excerpts from that conversation:

Please explain EMV chip technology…

Simmons: EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa; those are the actual card schemes that developed the microchip processor technology in Europe in the early 1990s. The idea is when a terminal is able to read the chip that is inside of a card, the level of authentication and security around that transaction is greatly enhanced over the traditional mag stripe technology. EMV chip technology makes the card more secure for the holder and the merchant when they accept the card… the bad guys are not able to copy that chip card information and authentication. It should reduce fraud and counterfeits as well.

Why is this something the gaming industry needs to pay attention to now?

Simmons: EMV was introduced globally and the different card associations have set different time frames for when a particular region needs to implement it prior to the penalty of a liability shift, which means the merchant, instead of the issuing bank, would be found responsible for any fraudulent card transaction. In the U.S., the card brands had mandated that as of October 2015, POS terminals needed to be able to accept and authenticate a card via the chip.

So safe to say most of the systems have this chip-reading technology in place at this point…  

Simmons: No, it is not safe to say that… It has been challenging. I think some recent statistics show only about 20 percent of merchants have actually been able to implement the technology. The challenge is that the U.S. is large with a lot of regional banks issuing cards. Large banks like Bank of America, Chase and Citi were better able to do the conversion than the smaller issuing banks and credit unions which had a more difficult time. There is also a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put in place to make this work, gateways and payment switches that shift the transactions around to the different payment schemes all need to be in sync and all need to have their systems upgraded to be able to support chip cards.

So it is challenging, expensive and a lot of folks have not been able to get it done. They have issued a lot of cards however, I would guess that probably half the cardholders in the U.S. have a chip credit or debit card.

What impact is the move to EMV having or will have on the gaming floor?

Simmons: I think the large, more sophisticated operators are well aware of this, especially the operators who also have a non-casino gaming footprint whether that is retail, hotel or F&B. They have an incentive to get those parts of their business converted over to avoid the liability shift.

On the gaming floor, the money access services we provide is where the bad guys like to prey because of the cash. Operators do not want to attract this bad element to their properties and we don’t want them around either, so that is why we have worked very hard to become the first cash access provider to become EMV compliant.

How did Everi prepare for this EMV future?

Simmons: We have actually been able to complete all of our certifications and implementations across all of our hardware platforms. Our ATMs, ATM-enabled kiosks and cash club POS solutions that reside inside casino cages have all been fully EMV-certified and enabled for a few months now.

We pushed real heavy in 2015 to get this done…for that whole year, I ate and breathed EMV technology. I had a great team and partners who helped get us over the line. We knew that in October the liability shift was going to kick in and if we weren’t ready, we were going to potentially have a situation that would have been even harder to mitigate.

So we got it done and were, in fact, able to get certified EMV transaction types that had not otherwise been done elsewhere in the world. It was very exciting for us to be the first ones able to do that.