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Getting Chip Ready

Preparing your community bank’s ATM network for EMV chip cards

By Randy Vanderhoof

Most banks today are planning, starting or are in the midst of migrating card portfolios to EMV chip technology. While that is a large and complicated project on its own, another migration banks need to consider is the migration for their ATMs.

When should your community bank update its ATMs to allow them to process EMV chip cards? You will need to make your own business decision based on factors such as the cost of migration, liability shift dates, your community bank’s tolerance for risk and other projects. It is also critical to consider the time the migration will take. EMV migration can be a nine- to 12-month project (or longer), from inception to implementing the first EMV-enabled ATM in the field.

Institutions that wait to begin will also be waiting for vendor time and certification time slots, and could struggle to meet liability shift dates.

Your community bank’s regular ATM replacement cycle is also a consideration. Some banks may decide not to upgrade a particular ATM to EMV until they must replace the ATM according to their regular replacement cycle or until they have to replace a broken card reader. It is much less costly to include the chip reader when purchasing the ATM than to install it later.

  • As with any other major project, thorough planning, communication and coordination are the keys to success. Some of the main components to your bank’s EMV migration planning should include:
    • formulating business requirements, addressing:
    • which cards will be acquired
    • which networks are supported
    • which transactions will be supported
    • what the anticipated transaction paths are;
  • creating a Business Requirements Document or Project Charter with the scope, objectives and participants of the project to initiate and refer back to throughout the life of the project;
  • consulting with hardware and software vendors, processors and payments network representatives for their recommendations and advice;
  • working closely with your vendors during the implementation process;
  • verifying that components have passed EMVCo Level 1 and Level 2 approval testing;
  • verifying that the vendor has software that meets your bank’s business requirements;
  • verifying that the processor has completed and secured all of the required testing and certifications for their platform and all applicable end-to-end configurations;
  • relying on the vendor to help with the technical details of EMV, and obtaining the EMV-compliant hardware, software and processing components; and
  • coordinating project activities with payments network representatives.

Lastly, the plans for your community bank’s card-issuing business are not completely separate from its ATM migration. If your bank coordinates chip card issuance with its ATM upgrades, cardholders will have convenient locations to use their new chip cards. If your bank’s time frames do not initially align, you can choose to upgrade its ATMs to support EMV, but not “turn on” the chip-reading capability in those ATMs until a certain number of chip cards are in production—but only make this decision once you have weighed liability shift risks.


Randy Vanderhoof (rvanderhoof@us-emvforum.org) is director of the EMV Migration Forum in Princeton Junction, N.J.