EMV® Chip Specifications provide a blueprint for chip technology to work consistently anywhere in the world to deliver the same result – secure, seamless and reliable in-store payments. In this post, Jianhua Ni, Chair of the EMVCo Board of Managers, explores the latest data and the key initiatives advancing EMV chip technology.

EMV Chip is a set of open, global technology specifications that make seamless and secure contact and contactless payments with cards and mobile devices possible – anywhere in the world. To enable payment stakeholders to track key marketplace trends, EMVCo collates and publicly shares data on global EMV chip card circulation, issuance and adoption.

The latest figures published by EMVCo show that 2021 was another milestone year for EMV chip technology. At the end of 2021, 12 billion EMV chip cards were in global circulation. This marked a significant 1.1 billion increase compared to the previous twelve months. Global issuance, adoption and usage also rose, with EMVCo data showing 68% of all issued cards are EMV-enabled and 90% of all card-present transactions conducted globally used EMV chip technology.

These figures clearly demonstrate the benefits that consumers and merchants realise through robust transaction security, reduced counterfeit cards and fraud, and a consistent payment experience.

The significant and sustained increases in EMV chip deployment and adoption in 2021, however, point to broader trends at the point-of-sale. Namely, there is undoubtedly a general ongoing societal shift away from cash and towards digital payments. This is being enabled and accelerated by the mature, reliable and globally deployed EMV chip infrastructure.

Demand for contactless transactions is also driving increased adoption. In the UK, for example, 91% of card transactions in 2021 were contactless.[1] This trend is set to continue across the world as the number of contactless-enabled cards in global circulation increases, with the US anticipated to see 300% growth in contactless transactions over the next five years.[2]

Advancing EMV Chip

Although the EMV Chip Specifications were first published in 1996 – it is not a legacy technology. To promote continued innovation at the point-of-sale, EMVCo works in close collaboration with merchants, issuers, acquirers, payment networks, financial institutions, manufacturers, technology providers and testing laboratories across the globe to meet emerging requirements.

Recently, EMVCo announced that it is developing an EMV® Contactless Kernel Specification to simplify and advance global contactless payment acceptance.

The specification aims to help reduce the number of contactless kernels (which provides a set of functions for payment acceptance devices to process contactless transactions for specific payment systems) that stakeholders need to support and maintain. This will create opportunities for merchants, hardware providers and payment systems to reduce costs, and improve roll-out speed and time to market. Following a detailed review with EMVCo Associates in February and March, a public review of the draft specification was held May through to mid-June. Publication of the specification, subject to EMVCo’s Board of Advisors’ approval to publish, is targeted for Q3 2022.

Other key initiatives include adding support for Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) to deliver state-of-the art security without impacting technical performance of a payment device or slowing transaction processing time.

EMVCo is also working on various specification and testing initiatives to extend the benefits of EMV Chip beyond retail in-store payments to transit, IoT and in-car payments.

Enabling global commerce

The latest data is testament to the key importance of EMV chip technology in enabling global commerce. Given this context, the impact of the ongoing semiconductor shortage – which continues to create significant disruption across various industries – must be carefully monitored.

While EMVCo does not have a role in chip production, card manufacturing and lifecycle management, it supports industry efforts exploring options to address the challenges posed by the global chip shortage and ensure payment card production is prioritised.

For further insight into EMV chip card adoption rates and the percentage of EMV card-present transactions by region, view the EMVCo infographic.

[1] Finextra, Contactless Transactions Surge in the UK, January 2022

[2]Juniper Research, Contactless Payments: 2021-2026 Market Summary, October 2021