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How to Prepare Your Small Business for the Next Generation of Credit Cards

smart chip credit cards

On Oct. 1, your small business will have to be ready to accept the new EMV credit cards, an acronym that stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. These are more advanced than the standard magnetic credit cards your company has dealt with in the past, as they are designed with small microprocessors, or computer chips, that encrypt customers' personal information to create a more secure point-of-sale transaction.

What does this mean for your company? 

There are a few updates you have to make to ensure your small business is ready to accept the new credit cards. You should consider preparing everything from your card terminal to your staff in order to properly accommodate your consumers with EMV credit cards. 

1. Invest in the appropriate card terminal

If you haven't already implemented card terminals that accept EMV chips, it's important that you do so before Oct. 1, as you will be held accountable for any fraudulent activity that occurs with chip cards following this deadline.

According to Merchant Maverick, a single terminal can cost anywhere from $150 to $300, so if your business needs a few of these machines, prepare to make a sizeable investment. However, spending the money now is essential to avoiding the expensive penalties you will be subjected to if any fraudulent activity occurs with your old machine still in place. 

2. Train your staff

After you've invested in and set up your new credit card terminals, the next step is training your staff on how they work. In addition to explaining the terminals, providing a brief description of the differences between the old cards with magnetic strips that customers slide through the machine and the EMV chip cards will make it easier for employees to understand the new system. Remind them that the EMV cards either use a PIN - like standard cards do - or require a signature from the owner. 

Run quick follow-up sessions to make sure that each of your staff members knows how to use the machine. In addition to understanding it for their own benefit, it's also important that your employees know how to guide customers through the process, as it will be new to many consumers. 

3. Rely on guidance from an expert

It's important to have someone who understands EMV cards, their terminals and how they will impact your business guiding you as you invest in your new payment system. This individual should be able to help you make essential decisions like which terminal to buy and also provide assistance if something goes wrong after implementation. He or she could be your point-of-sale dealer or your payment processor. Whoever you hire, be sure that he or she is a trusted member of your staff with the necessary experience to get your company on the right track after the deadline. 

4. Ensure all sales are secure

While your in-store transactions will be more secure with the EMV card payment method, many business experts think that more thieves will start targeting online sales. It's a good idea to keep a close eye on the security of sales made through your online store. If you don't currently ask customers to enter their credit card's certification verification value code before completing each purchase, it may be time to add this requirement to enhance the safety of these transactions. This is particularly true if your small business sells some of its more expensive products online. 

Although the Oct. 1 deadline is right around the corner, it's never too late to start the preparation process - this new generation of credit cards is likely here to stay. Keep in mind that while the up front expenses may seem intimating, the security that this payment method creates will be well worth it down the road.

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