Some of America’s ISOs and transaction processors may be in for a shock when they begin trying to accept EMV chip cards in the coming months.

Unless they do their homework, they may find their equipment simply won’t accommodate EMV, Dave Maisey, CEO of ICC Solutions Ltd., tells ISO&Agent Weekly.

“If they don’t know the technical requirements, they don’t know if their platform will work,” Maisey says. Lack of memory sometimes causes problems, he notes.

But there’s a way of finding out which terminals work with various processing connections to accept EMV cards, and ICC has been specializing in it for years in Canada and Europe, Maisey says.

Now, the United Kingdom-based company has opened a U.S. headquarters in Atlanta and satellite offices in Great Neck, N.Y., and Pasadena, Calif., to bring its EMV testing and certification here.

The timing of ICC’s expansion seems right because U.S. payment companies now are responding to a push by Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide to begin accepting EMV cards.

In fact, the card brands require testing and certification of terminals for EMV acceptance, Stewart Chalmers, executive director of the Toluca Lake, Calif.- based EMV Academy, tells ISO&Agent Weekly.

A successful test certifies that a particular terminal model and the connection to the acquirer can exchange the data required to process an EMV card, Maisey says.

The burden of securing certifications rests with the acquirers, he notes.

 A typical package of testing tools includes a PC application, a card reader and a special card. The user connects the reader to the PC to configure the card for the test, Maisey says.

Then the information exchanged between the card and the terminal is uploaded to a computer to see if the connection passed the test, he says.

“A consideration in the U.S. is the fragmentation of the systems,” says Chalmers, noting the wide array of brands and processors here compared with the other countries requires more tests.

Besides, each time a user adds a function to the terminal, such as loyalty points or discounting, the connection requires another test to make sure the additional function has not compromised the system, Maisey says.

That raises the issue of EMV acceptance interfering with the industry’s efforts to include value-added functions, but acquirers that start early on EMV conversion and use the right tests should have no problems, he contends.

If fears arise over possible problems with the value-added functions, issuers could offer cards with magnetic stripes for those features and conduct transactions with the chip, Chalmers notes.

Besides, once Canadian acquirers became familiar with EMV testing and certification, they came to accept testing, says Maisey. Some now conduct more tests than the card brands require to build their confidence in their systems, he adds.

The path to familiarity begins with learning about EMV, says Chalmers, whose

Pasadena, Calif.-based academy aims to help.

Twelve companies have signed on as “members” of the academy, which has been operating since September. Between 15 and 20 companies would constitute a “comfortable” number large enough to ensure representation for every segment of the payment industry, Chalmers says.

The academy conducts public classes in Pasadena and in major cities and operates an ancillary office in New York, he says, noting it also holds “customized” private classes for companies.

Three-day public classes cost $2,400 per person, and one-day training sessions cost $495, Chalmers notes.

While emphasizing the importance of training, he and Maisey also cite what they view as a critical need for all segments of the payment industry to cooperate to keep the EMV conversion as painless as possible.

The recent MasterCard call for collective action drew praise from Chalmers and Maisey. Besides making the conversion smoother from a technical standpoint, an industry taking action in unison also could collaborate on getting the word out on

EMV to consumers, they agree. The public seems likely to embrace EMV because of its promise of better security and improved convenience, Chalmers notes.

However, even with training and a cooperative spirit, the industry seems unlikely to meet the deadlines the card brands have set for acquirers next year and for merchants in 2015, says Chalmers.

“They’re certainly aggressive,” Maisey says of the deadlines.