Operating Principles

This section provides an overview of EMVCo’s operating principles, including its governance, operations and the role of EMV Specifications in the wider payments community. Audiences reading this material will gain a better understanding of the relationship and distinctions between EMVCo and the payment systems.


  1. EMVCo is a member-owned technical body that owns, enhances and promotes the EMV Specifications to facilitate their adoption as an inter-industry compatibility standard.

Throughout the 1990s, companies in countries across the globe began to enhance payment card security by deploying microprocessor chip technology that was designed to meet domestic payment requirements and specifications. These domestic designs were not interoperable across geographic borders, however, and posed challenges to both business and consumers. As a result, although chip technology could be utilised to protect against fraud in domestic transactions, magnetic stripe technology was the only acceptance method when cardholders travelled outside their home countries.

EMVCo’s formation in 1999 as a global technical body enabled the development and management of specifications to address this challenge by facilitating global interoperability and enhancing payment security. EMV Chip Specifications were therefore designed to reduce fraud at retail store locations, as the payment information stored on an embedded microchip is very difficult to counterfeit. Chip cards offer transaction security that traditional magnetic stripe cards cannot provide.

  1. EMVCo’s scope has evolved over the past decade beyond exclusively focusing on face to face to also include e-commerce and digital transaction environments. 

In the past ten years, EMVCo has evolved from its sole focus on the original EMV Chip Specification, to include approval of card and terminal compliance with the EMV Chip Specifications, interoperability, contactless and mobile, next generation and, the latest activity, EMVCo’s specifications for Payment Tokenisation and 3-D Secure 2.0.

  1. EMVCo is a global technical body with worldwide reach and relevance.

Official figures show that by the end of Q4 2015, the number of EMV chip cards in circulation globally increased year on year by 41.1% to 4.8 billion.

  • Europe Zone 1: 84.3%
  • Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean: 71.7%
  • Africa and the Middle East: 61.2%
  • Europe Zone 2: 52.3%
  • Asia Pacific: 32.7%
  • United States: 26.4%

EMVCo has also reported that 35.8% of all card-present transactions conducted globally between January and December 2015 used EMV chip technology, representing an 11.9% increase from Q4 2014.

Percentage of regional card-present transactions that are processed as EMV transactions:

  • Europe Zone 1: 97%
  • Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean: 89%
  • Africa and the Middle East: 87.1%
  • In Europe Zone 2: 71.8%
  • Asia Pacific: 40.3%
  • United States: 1.98%

To visually view this market data, and for further details regarding these figures, visit the EMVCo website.

  1. EMVCo currently has six members.

American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, UnionPay and Visa all have equal 1/6 ownership of EMVCo. 

A Board of Managers directs the operations of the technical body, and an Executive Committee provides oversight and a strategic direction as it relates to the evolution and management of the organisation.

EMVCo also has nine working groups and a number of task forces, which are responsible for developing and publishing the EMV Specifications, and evolving and managing EMVCo’s testing and approval processes. These groups consist of payment systems members’ staff who are technical subject matter experts.

Visit About EMVCo for more information or to view the latest Board of Managers.


  1. Adoption of EMV chip technology promotes a unified international payments framework, which supports a range of secure payment methods, technologies and acceptance environments.  

The EMV Chip Specifications provide a comprehensive toolbox to help payment networks and other industry participants throughout the world develop and use secure and globally interoperable payment methods. The specifications are designed to be flexible and can be adapted regionally to meet national payment network requirements and accommodate local market needs.

In addition, EMVCo administers testing and approval processes, enabling terminal and chip manufacturers to test products and solutions they build for compliance with the EMV Chip Specifications.

EMV adoption enables the payments community to:   

  • Support a variety of payment security risk management parameters and cardholder verification methods that reduce fraudulent card payments. The more engagement and higher adoption, the more robust the entire infrastructure.
  • Provide the framework to deliver innovative, future payment capabilities to deliver a common, robust technology platform that in the future will support contact, contactless and mobile payments.
  • Deliver enhanced security, interoperability and acceptance of EMV based payments internationally.
  1. The EMV Specifications are flexible to accommodate global and local needs.

EMV chip technology is flexible and designed to be adapted for national payment requirements. There have been multiple implementations globally, each adjusting to accommodate local regulations / needs. These different adaptations are implemented in a way to interoperate within a global payment infrastructure. Stability across borders mitigates points of weakness and creates an international barrier against payment fraud.

The flexibility of the EMV Specifications enables third party implementers to design EMV-compliant solutions that address local needs and legal regulatory requirements.

For example, a variety of cardholder verification methods, including PIN and signature, are supported by the EMV Chip Specifications. The decision of which cardholder verification method to use is not EMVCo’s and is instead based on the issuer configuration of the card and the capabilities of the card accepting terminal.

  1. EMVCo makes the EMV Specifications available on a royalty-free basis to all industry participants and to the public.

Any interested party can obtain the EMV Specifications by downloading them for free from the EMVCo website. They can also contribute to the development of the EMV Specifications through EMVCo’s participation programmes outlined below.

Roles and responsibilities  

  1. EMVCo has no involvement in setting liability shift dates or implementation mandates.

As an organisation striving to facilitate a payments infrastructure that is standardised in terms of security and interoperability, EMVCo plays an important role in bringing together stakeholder interests among payments industry participants. EMVCo, however, does not establish obligations, requirements, or otherwise for the implementation of its specifications. EMVCo does not mandate or enforce EMV compliance or the implementation policies for issuers, merchants and acquirers, which are handled by payment networks independently outside of EMVCo.

For example, individual payment networks publish their own EMV compliance requirements, which may vary from country to country or among industries within a country. Likewise, EMVCo does not engage or contribute to business arrangements to help encourage the adoption of EMV, such as the recent U.S. ‘liability shift’. These are the independent decisions of the payment systems.


Global, Regional and Domestic Payment Systems

  • Manage and evolve EMV Specifications
  • Perform product testing & certification
  • Enhance payment security
  • Support emerging payment technologies
  • Product development
  • EMV mandates
  • Commercial incentives
  • Fraud liability shift policy

Figure 1: Roles of EMVCo and Global, Regional and Domestic Payment Systems

Industry engagement

  1. EMVCo does not work in isolation and actively engages the payment community in shaping future specifications.

Many payment community stakeholders are active participants within EMVCo’s initiatives and have a significant influence on the work efforts of the organisation. EMVCo welcomes engagement with interested parties from across the payments ecosystem and has created many opportunities for the payment community to become actively involved in developing, enhancing and evolving future specifications. Current participants in EMVCo’s work include issuers, acquirers, payment networks, financial institutions, merchants, manufacturers, technology providers and testing laboratories from numerous countries.

  • The EMVCo Associates Programme creates the following opportunities:
    • Business Associates – Merchants, payment networks and other organisations that have a direct business responsibility for an EMV transaction at any point in the transaction lifecycle are eligible to join the Associates Programme as a BA. BAs provide EMVCo with input on strategic business and interoperability issues related to the use of the EMV Specifications.
    • Technical Associates – Any interested stakeholder, including merchants and payment networks, are eligible to join as Technical Associates. These participants provide input and receive feedback on detailed technical and operational issues relating to the EMV Specifications and related processes. 
  • EMVCo Subscriber Programme – Any interested party can join as a Subscriber. Subscribers receive access to advance information regarding new developments and draft documents, and the opportunity to provide feedback and input on the work of EMVCo. All EMVCo Associates automatically receive the benefits of Subscribers.
  • EMVCo Board of Advisors. This group comprises of up to two representatives from each Business Associate and six representatives from among all Technical Associates. The Board of Advisors serves as an advisory forum that provides input to the Executive Committee, facilitating discussion about new initiatives and the future direction of the EMV Specifications and related processes.

Associates involved in the process of developing the EMV Specifications have access to specification work product under development. Such work product, however, cannot be utilised until finalised. 

Read more about EMVCo Associate participation.

Other platforms include:

  • EMVCo Forums. TA meetings to gain feedback on technical work; annual EMV User Meeting for all Associates and Subscribers to connect with leaders of EMVCo initiatives; and EMV Webinars/ Webcasts, open to any interested party to understand more about key work items.
  • Public Feedback on Specifications. Feedback on all specifications is actively encouraged from interested parties through the EMVCo website.  
  1. EMVCo connects with other relevant industry bodies.

EMVCo engages with various regional and global organisations to both receive input and share perspective on areas of respective interest. These organisations include: NFC Forum, GlobalPlatform, GSMA, PCI SSC, AFSCM, APSCA, ACT Canada, ETSI, the European Payments Council, Smart Card Alliance and the EMV Migration Forum. EMVCo does periodically engage in public education outreach in various regions around the world.