Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

September 11th, 2015 by Jamie Estep

PIN debit ≠ EMV

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

We’ve been receiving a substantial number of enquiries to add PIN debit to existing merchant accounts. We wanted to clear up what is looking to be a new misconception about different types of cards and acceptance methods.

PIN debit is not EMV!

To briefly summarize, being able to accept PIN debit transactions has absolutely nothing to do with accepting EMV transactions.

We are unsure how this concept is getting traction, but suspect it has something to do with EMV being referred to as Chip and PIN in non-US countries. It also may be due to an older pricing scenario where PIN debit was cheaper to accept than debit run as a credit transaction.

Disregarding the cost of obtaining and encrypting a PINpad, which typically runs from about $100 – $500 depending on the equipment, PIN debit and signature debit were regulated by congress several years ago and now carry the same cost to accept, no matter how the debit card is processed. Additionally, when congress regulated the debit industry, they also allowed debit networks, such as Star or Pulse, and others, to charge monthly fees for processing a transaction over their network. What this means is that unbeknown to a merchant, they may end up with a monthly fee for accepting a PIN debit transaction if it is processed over one of these networks, which the merchant has zero control over. In short, it is likely more expensive to accept PIN debit now than prior to the congressional regulation. PIN debit still does carry the benefit of substantially reduced risk of receiving a chargeback, but most retail merchants rarely see chargebacks on debit transactions, so for most this benefit will be negligible.

If you want to accept PIN debit transactions, by all means accept them. Just know that accepting PIN debit is not going to satisfy any requirement relating to EMV migration and there’s a very good chance that PIN debit will cost slightly more in the form of monthly fees from debit networks.

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