Posted on 02 Nov 2020 by in Announcements & Updates

In response to requests from the payments industry, EMVCo has established a dedicated initiative to explore how to evolve EMV Specifications and testing to support the use of consumer smartphones and tablets for contactless payment acceptance.

In this Q&A post, EMVCo Director of Technology Bastien Latge provides insight into EMVCo’s efforts in this area, including a new pilot functional testing programme to evaluate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) mobile devices.

What is the objective of EMVCo’s COTS mobile initiative?

Bastien Latge: Ultimately, the goal is to enable a good consumer experience when commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) mobile devices are used for contactless payment acceptance. So how do we go about doing this? Specifically, we are looking at how we can adapt the terminal testing programme and EMV® Contactless Specifications for these devices to support the delivery of consistent payment experiences for both merchants and consumers.

What is the genesis of this initiative?

Bastien Latge:  Mobile payment acceptance is an area of great interest to EMVCo Associates and Subscribers. As key representatives of the payments industry that provide both strategic and technical direction to EMVCo, they requested a dedicated initiative to support the use of COTS mobile devices for contactless payment acceptance.  

This EMVCo initiative focuses specifically on COTS mobile devices that use built-in contactless capabilities for payment acceptance, rather than external hardware, like a dongle. Devices that rely on additional hardware are already addressed by the existing EMV® Contactless Specifications and the existing terminal testing programme.

How specifically is EMVCo working to address the use of COTS mobile devices for contactless payment acceptance?

Bastien Latge: EMVCo is working closely with EMVCo Associates and Subscribers, comprised of banks, vendors, and merchants, amongst others, on this effort. This includes collaboration via dedicated Special Interest Meetings (SIM), which are forums for EMVCo to receive input from the industry. We have held two SIMs on this topic in 2020 already, and there will be more scheduled in future months as the initiative progresses.

We recently launched the Early Adopter Programme, a pilot functional testing programme to evaluate COTS mobile devices with built-in contactless capability for contactless payment acceptance.

EMVCo has also established a Tap-to-Mobile Task Force as part of its objective to enable a good consumer experience when mobile devices are used for contactless payment acceptance. The task force is focused specifically on evaluating the best way to interact with merchants and consumers when using COTS mobile devices as acceptance devices.

Can you provide more insight into the objective of the Early Adopter Programme?

Bastien Latge: Feedback from EMVCo Associates and Subscribers highlighted functional testing for COTS devices as a priority for the industry. Specifically, merchants and acquirers have requested testing processes that provide assurance that COTS mobile devices used for payment acceptance can perform in a way that delivers a consistent and seamless experience for consumers.

In the absence of an EMVCo functional testing programme for COTS devices with built-in contactless capability, in October 2020 EMVCo launched the Early Adopter Programme as an interim mechanism to address this industry need for testing these devices.

Working with the industry via SIMs, EMVCo will use the data gathered through the programme to fine tune testing processes before the potential launch of a more traditional product approval/evaluation process as operated today by EMVCo for other products.

Who can participate in the Early Adopter Programme and how does it work?

Bastien Latge: The Early Adopter Programme is open to vendors for functional evaluation of COTS mobile devices with built-in contactless capability that do not rely on external hardware.

The functional evaluation processes available through the Early Adopter Programme will evaluate the performance of these devices based on current interoperability requirements related to read range and user experience needs, as outlined in the EMV® Level 1 Specifications for Payment Systems-EMV® Contactless Interface Specification, v3.0.

Based on these criteria, an evaluation score will be made available to the vendor after the device evaluation is completed.  Mobile vendors can then use these scores to refine their product designs and to demonstrate the performance of their devices to acquirers, merchants, payment systems and other interested parties.

How can interested parties stay updated on the Early Adopter Programme and the COTS mobile initiative?

Bastien Latge: In terms of staying informed, updates will be included as part of regular communications that EMVCo Associates and Subscribers receive through various EMVCo channels. Vendors interested in participating in the Early Adopter Programme can review the FAQ and contact the EMVCo Terminal Approval secretariat for more information: terminal_approval@emvco.com.

To contribute to the COTS mobile initiative, stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the COTS mobile SIMs. Participation in SIMs is a benefit of the EMVCo Associates and Subscriber Programmes. Current programme participants can find details about upcoming SIMs via their EMVCo dashboard and email notifications. Organisations interested in learning more about joining the Associates and Subscriber Programmes can visit the EMVCo website for additional information.

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