EMVCo published the EMV® Contactless Kernel Specification in October. Now that the specification is available for use, what happens next? Here we cover key questions.

When will the EMV Contactless Kernel Specification be implemented?

The EMV Contactless Kernel Specification is available for all payment systems, including domestic and proprietary systems, to use. Decisions regarding the adoption of the EMV Contactless Kernel are for each payment system individually, and EMVCo is not involved in these decisions. Any questions on implementation should be directed to specific payment systems.

In the meantime, it’s important to note that we intentionally designed the specification for a kernel that can sit alongside existing payment system kernels, and work with existing payment acceptance terminals and readers. Existing kernels and cards will work as they do today, and there’s no hard changeover required.

When will testing be available to support the specification?

This work is underway. It’s being jointly led by EMVCo’s Terminal Approval Working Group and its Level 3 Testing Group.

We anticipate test tools will be available for development and debugging in the first half of 2023, with the full testing suite to follow in 2024. This timing is subject to change – we will keep stakeholders informed.

How will the testing processes work?

A key benefit of the EMV Contactless Kernel Specification is that testing is only done once. It is one piece of software requiring one type approval that can be done through one testing laboratory. This results in an approved EMV Contactless kernel that can be used by all payment systems.

EMVCo accredited laboratories will test the kernel following an EMVCo defined process and test plan and provide a report to EMVCo. EMVCo will review the report. If the requirements have been met, EMVCo will issue a Letter of Approval (LoA) and list the approved kernel on the EMVCo website.

Are any updates to the EMV Contactless Kernel Specification planned?

With the initial release of the specification, we focused on the really important features first. This was a key request from the industry. The plan is to make iterative updates to specification over time, as needed, per the usual EMVCo process for updating specifications. EMVCo is currently evaluating what will be prioritised in the next release. We will keep stakeholders informed of the development process.

Download the EMV Contactless Kernel Specification