About EMV

EMV®1is a trademark dating back to 1999, after Europay, MasterCard, and Visa founded EMVCo with the purpose of developing specifications for secure payment transactions.  The original EMV Specification (for chip-based payment instruments) is now in v4.3, with backwards-compatible EMV Next Generation Specifications in development.

Over the years, EMV has evolved from a single, chip-based contact specification to include EMV Contactless, EMV Common Payment Application (CPA), EMV Card Personalisation, and EMV Tokenisation.  There are also EMV documents and materials regarding mobile payments.  The common thread throughout “EMV” is a commitment to worldwide interoperability and acceptance of secure payment transactions.

EMV Specifications and EMVCo

The EMV Specifications and related testing processes aim to facilitate worldwide interoperability and acceptance of secure payment transactions.  The following EMV Specifications are currently managed by EMVCo:

  • EMV Contact – Currently in v4.3, this specification is for chip-based contact payment cards and terminals.
  • EMV Contactless – Currently in v2.3, this specification is for chip-based contactless payment cards and terminals.
  • EMV Next Generation – Currently in development with the consultation of stakeholders worldwide, this specification will be backwards-compatible with EMV Contact and EMV Contactless Specifications.  A draft specification is expected in 2014, with a final specification the following year.
  • EMV Common Payment Application (CPA) – v1.0 of this specification is a Common Core Definitions (CCD)-compliant application.
  • EMV Card Personalisation Specification (CPS) – v1.1 of this specification standardises EMV card personalisation.  
  • EMV Tokenisation Specification – Currently in development with the consultation of stakeholders worldwide, this specification addresses the process of replacing a traditional card account number with a unique payment token.  A draft specification is expected in 2014.

“EMV” as Frequently Used in the Payments Industry

Within the payments industry, “EMV” has often been used to refer to the original EMV Contact & EMV Contactless Specifications.  When used in this manner EMV refers to payment chip cards that contain an embedded microprocessor, a type of small computer that provides strong security features and other capabilities not possible with traditional magnetic stripe cards.

The metallic square on the front of an EMV contact card is known as the card’s contact plate. A microprocessor chip is embedded in a small cavity directly behind the contact plate, protected by a thin resin capsule. When inserted into a card acceptance device, such as a terminal, the contact plate allows the chip to connect to a reader. This connection enables the chip to get power from and exchange data with the terminal.

Contactless EMV works by holding a contactless chip-enabled payment device (typically a card or smartphone) within proximity of a contactless-capable reader. The reader energises the chip embedded in the card and allows exchange of data via radio frequency without the payment device ever leaving the customer’s possession. Research has shown that a contactless transaction can be approximately 53 percent faster than a traditional magnetic stripe credit card transaction and 63 percent faster than using cash.

Advantages of EMV Contact and EMV Contactless Payment Product

  • Through the use of features including data authentication, PIN entry, and cryptographic technology, it provides added security against certain types of fraud (e.g. counterfeit and lost/stolen)
  • A transaction-unique digital seal or signature in the chip proves its authenticity in an offline environment and prevents criminals from using fraudulent payment cards
  • Can be used to secure online payment transactions and protect cardholders, merchants and issuers against fraud through a transaction-unique online cryptogram
  • Supports enhanced cardholder verification methods
  • Stores considerably more information than magnetic stripe cards

The Approach to EMV Specifications

EMV encompasses specifications, test procedures, and compliance processes managed by EMVCo, LLC, an organisation jointly owned and operated by American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay and Visa.

The EMV Specifications are based on various standards (such as ISO 7816, ISO 14443, and ISO 8583) and define the physical, electrical, data and application levels for financial payment transactions. Through payment systems representatives, EMVCo promotes and complements the ongoing standardisation efforts by vigorously contributing to the ISO standards drafting process in order to ensure continued compatibility between the ISO standards and the EMV Specifications.

On this website, EMVCo makes available to the public many online resources such as final and published versions of EMV Specifications, bulletins and application notes, type approval-process documents, and approval lists.

History and Today

The EMV name comes from Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that in 1994 initiated development of the EMV Specifications. Europay International SA became part of MasterCard in 2002. JCB joined EMVCo in 2004, American Express in 2009 and, most recently, Discover and UnionPay in 2013.

At the time, many banks recognised the benefits of chip-based payment but also realised that international standards for such payments were needed to help foster global interoperability. The original EMV Specifications were created to fill that void.
The first version of the EMV Contact Specifications was published in 1996, as version 3.1.1. The most recent version, EMV 4.3, was published in November 2011.

As the industry has evolved, additional EMV Specifications have been written to advance new payments initiatives. 

1 EMV is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries, and is an unregistered trademark in other countries, owned by EMVCo