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Understanding EMV: Rolling Out EMV Cards at Your Bank

  • by Derrick Bretz
  • Jul 29, 2015

Whether your bank is still in the discovery phase or you’re ready to implement an EMV card program, you’re likely weighing the benefits of enabling EMV. And with data breaches related to card fraud popping up in the news almost daily, you may be feeling pressure to put EMV cards in rotation well ahead of most merchants.

If you’re considering issuing EMV chip cards, the complexities, timing and costs of implementation are significant. Keep reading to find out what you can expect when rolling out EMV technology at your bank.

Choosing the Right EMV Interface

EMV chip cards typically feature two interface options, contact only or dual interface:

  • Contact-only cards

    On contact-only cards, the metallic area on the front of the card has a microprocessor chip under is its contact plate. With EMV contact transactions, the card must maintain physical contact with the plate and chip throughout the transaction. This is known as “dip to pay.” 

    Contact-only EMV cards are the most common because they’re typically less expensive to implement than dual-interface cards and lack the need for NFC-enabled terminals. 

  • Dual-interface cards

    These EMV cards include the contact interface and the contactless interface. Contactless EMV works by holding a contactless chip-enabled card, which also contains an integrated antenna that’s placed in the border of the card, near a contactless- or NFC-capable EMV reader.

    This is often called “tap” to pay, because the card never has to leave the customer’s possession. 

Tips for Styling Your Bank’s EMV Cards

When it’s time to start producing cards for your bank, you’ll need to work with a card issuer to redesign the card layout and art to allow for EMV chip placement.

  • Front of the Card

    Typically, EMV chip placement is on the front of the card. The placement of the chip significantly reduces the area available for your logo, which means you’ll have to find a new place for your logo. Many banks are moving the brand hologram to the back of the card.

  • Back of the Card
  • The EMV chip makes a similar impact to the back of the card, reducing the area for the signature and CVV2/CVC2. Your bank’s verbiage can be placed to the right of the hologram, though you’ll probably want to shorten the verbiage to fit in the limited space.

Your EMV Roll-Out Strategy 

Once your bank is ready to issue EMV cards, you have several options for rolling them out to your existing card base, including: 

  • Reissue the entire existing card base at once

    Though comprehensive, this approach requires significant upfront costs and a steep learning curve for customers and staff.

  • Upgrade your existing card base as cards expire
  • This is a more popular approach because it spreads out costs, while educating cardholders. It also allows banks to target specific customer segments that may be more inclined toward EMV cards (like international travelers).

Starting the Mag-Stripe Migration—Vulnerability

When the migration from mag-stripe to EMV begins, issued cards will have both EMV and mag-stripes so transactions can continue on all devices. Initially, terminals equipped with EMV technology will use EMV as the first authentication, while terminals not equipped with EMV technology will continue to use mag-stripe authorization as the default method.

But cards with both mag-stripe and EMV functionality will still have the same vulnerabilities as mag-stripe-based cards. And merchant updates to point-of-sale terminals could take years. As long as merchants are using mag-stripe to process EMV cards, EMV cards will be exposed to potential fraud.

CSI Can Help You Plot Your Course

Lucky for you, CSI is already working with card vendors and networks to help you prepare for card issuance and upgrade programs.

Migration costs may be high, but EMV is the future of payments. And CSI is here to help whenever your bank is ready to transition. Ask yourself—where do your customers want to bank?


Derrick Bretz leads strategic product development and quality improvement initiatives within CSI Payment Services. In his role, Derrick enhances payment and commerce experiences and customer education through the use of data analytics. Having helped develop CSI’s initial mobile offerings, Derrick continues to provide leadership on mobile commerce initiatives.