EMV, P2PE, or both?

There is a lot of confusion on how EMV and point-to-point encryption (P2PE) work together and whether one can replace the other, and whether both technologies are necessary. While point-to-point encryption becomes more and more popular and EMV-related liability shift in the US is approaching, more and more questions, regarding both these payment processing aspects, arise.

The purpose of this particular article is to explain the benefits of each option taken separately.

In our previous post on point-to-point encryption we described P2PE as an additional security measure “on top of” EMV standard. However, in some cases, people and companies use point-to-point encryption as an alternative to EMV (which, as we explained here, is much more secure than a magnetic stripe).

Of course, if you want to feel more secure and support different card types, you’re better off incorporating both technologies within your solution.

Usage of EMV without point-to-point encryption is not recommended. Some modern businesses choose not to EMV standard and use P2PE only, in spite of the approaching liability shift deadline.

Let us illustrate the essence of the liability shift with a simple example.

Example

A fraudulent transaction took place, during which EMV card was used. The transaction itself, however, was not an EMV transaction, as the merchant did not support EMV standard (did not have an EMV terminal). Consequently the card had to be swiped, and, as a result, the fraud occurred. According to the current rules, an examination would take place before the liable party is defined. However, after October 15, 2015, the liability would get assigned to the merchant, because it did not have EMV terminals.

As a result, businesses, where payment card fraud risk is higher (such as small convenience stores), prefer to use EMV terminals. On the other hand, businesses, where fraud risk is lower (such as large hotel networks, which verify and retain the copies of all the documents of the cardholder at the time of purchase), may be less “stressed out” by the approaching deadline.
They may choose to implement point-to-point encryption as the primary security measure.

For businesses that already have an existing encrypted swiper based point-to-point solution (and consider fraud a minor threat) investing in the new EMV terminals (and EMV certification) might be a challenge. That is why they choose to invest in liability insurances and stay away EMV for now.

Conclusion

The best option is to use both EMV and P2PE technologies. However, if you already have point-to-point encryption functionality, and, presently, you do not consider fraud your top-priority problem, it is not that critical for you to purchase EMV terminals, go through certification, and try to implement respective solution at all your facilities before the liability shift. So why not just make your shift towards EMV standard more gradual and smooth?