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EMV in the USA: What Petroleum Retailers Need to Know

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Technology corner
Posted / Last update: 07-05-2013

Publication: PetrolPlaza Technology Corner
Issued: May 2013
Author: Tim Weston, Wayne, A GE Energy Business

As the broader payments industry prepares for EMV migration into the United States, petroleum retailers face unique challenges with pay-at-the-pump systems and forecourt architectures not found in other industry verticals.

The time is approaching for retailers to take action, and fueling sites have double duty in order to meet the EMV liability shift deadlines, addressing card acceptance changes on both the in-store point-of-sale (POS) systems, as well as fuel dispensers on their forecourt. By now, many in the industry are aware that there are new payment protocol changes coming, but for some in the U.S., the topic of EMV still generates questions – what is it, and more specifically, what does it mean for the petroleum retailer? 

What is EMV?

EMV, named after the originators EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa, is a global specification for credit and debit payment cards based on chip technology. Unlike the traditional magnetic stripe card, EMV credit and debit cards contain a microprocessor chip imbedded into the plastic. EMV covers the processing of these credit and debit card payments at a payment terminal with both contact (insert) and contactless (tap) methods of use. Unlike magnetic stripe transactions, where typically only the card's track data containing account number and validity dates are processed, every chip card transaction contains dozens of pieces of information exchanged between the card, the terminal, and the acquiring bank's host.

The EMV liability shift has been established for the U.S. Banks are starting to issue EMV chip cards to cardholders. As a result, those card holders will soon be aware of the increased protection and start to look for payment terminals that accept the EMV specifications. Published reports indicate that the U.S. EMV shift could be as early as 2015, but some industry experts predict adoption will occur in the later part of this decade. 

How will EMV impact the forecourt?

The biggest impact of EMV to a fuel retailer in the U.S. is likely the upgrade of the infrastructure on their forecourt. In addition to exchanging much larger amounts of data via its chip technology, EMV, because it is a different type of protocol, contains increased security measures than current credit and debit cards with mag-stripes. On existing serial-based connections like RS-485, it would take too long to process a payment; as the RS-485’s twisted-pair wiring does not have enough bandwidth to support the increased data throughput. Therefore, the industry is moving to a TCP/IP solution that is able to handle more information, quickly and securely. Think of it as upgrading from dial-up internet to a cable internet connection. This infrastructure requires that the forecourt provides expanded throughput to every fueling point.

In order for retailers to get the proper connections to support EMV, there are a few options to consider:

  1. The optimal approach is to run IP connections to every fueling point by installing new underground conduit and pulling Ethernet cable through, which works well for new sites under construction. However, for existing sites, this solution involves breaking up concrete to lay new conduits and running the new cables. It also means seeking the right permits and managing the downtime on the forecourt – considerations that may be costly.
  2. The alternative for existing sites that already have conduit laid under their forecourt is to run IP connections to every fueling point by pulling the Ethernet cable through the existing channels.  The site owner would have to consider the cost of the cable, plus the labor to do the installation and connection at both ends of the terminals.
  3. A more economical solution would be to use connection alternatives that allow the retailer to run IP connectivity over existing wires used for serial communications. One such alternative is the Wayne Connect™ IP-485® network solution. It consists of an in-store controller that hooks into the network router hub and connects to the twisted-pair wiring that runs from the back room box, through the existing conduit, and out to the dispensers. For each dispenser there is a complementary module that the twisted-pair wiring terminates into. This Wayne Connect in-dispenser module provides the Ethernet connection to the Wayne iX™ motherboard. This option has significant cost savings versus new conduit and cables.

Questions have been in the industry about using a wireless connection to support EMV. Unfortunately, the limitations of wireless (intermittent issues, limited coverage, and the potential threat of hackers who attack wireless networks) make that a less desirable option. In addition, site owners could experience interference from a vehicle blocking the signal reducing the ability to have reliable communications. 


  • #1 | 01-10-2013 | Sarah Shevon

    Google Wallet, Google's mobile payments platform, used to only work with MasterCard. However, Google has publicized that it will now work with all debit and charge cards. An installment loan will help you pay for your purchases.

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