EMV Toolkit: Experience and Recommendations

on Jun5
EMV toolkit
Written by
James Davis
Written by James Davis
Senior Technical Writer at United Thinkers
Author of the Paylosophy blog, a veteran writer, and a stock analyst with extensive knowledge and experience in the financial services industry that allows me to cover the latest payment industry news, developments, and insights. Read more
EMV toolkit
Reviewed by
Kathrine Pensatori
Product Specialist at United Thinkers
Product specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the Payment Processing Industry. I help payment facilitators and PSPs solve their various payment processing issues. Read more

In our previous article we explained the role of EMV toolkits in EMV terminal certification process. In this article we are going to share our experience of EMV toolkit usage as well as provide some advice and recommendations concerning the choice of the most suitable EMV toolkit. The article is intended to help our readers choose suitable EMV terminal certification tools as well as better organize the certification process.

We have experience using EMV toolkits by two brands: UL (two toolkits) and ICC (one toolkit). UL Test Tools were previously known as Collis and Aspect test tools. Particularly, UL EMV toolkits belong to the “family” of Collis security test tools.

Beside UL (Collis) and ICC there are many (at least a dozen) other EMV toolkit vendors (such as FIME). However, EMV certification tests, performed using UL and ICC toolkits, qualify for EMV certification with most major payment gateway providers; these two vendors and FIME are considered highly reputable ones on the market.

Let us now share our experience using the aforementioned toolkits.

UL (Collis) EMV Toolkit Family

Visa payWave Test Tool

Visa payWave includes SmartWave Box (a bus with contact-less payment emulator) and software. The hardware emulates the work of different Visa payment card types based on respective test scenarios. Particularly, it emulates different card numbers, BINs, card number lengths, cardholder identification mechanisms (PIN, signature, etc.), and other parameters.

Visa payWave is a toolkit for emulating and testing of Visa contact-less payments in Europe.

In order to certify EMV payments in most European countries (UK, Germany, France, and others) you are required to use Visa payWave test tool to perform the respective EMV security tests. The advantage of Visa payWave tool is that once you pass the certification in Germany, you can start processing Visa contact-less payments in a bunch of other countries, such as Italy, France, Norway, and others.

UL Brand Test Tool

UL Brand Test Tool includes a software package (UL Brand Test tool is also the name for the software package) with two hardware units (SmartWave Box and SmartLink Box). SmartWave Box is intended for emulation of contact-less card payments (just as in the case of payWave tool). SmartLink Box is intended for emulation of contact card payments.

UL Brand Test tool emulates contact and contact-less payments for all major card brands (Visa, MC, Discover, Amex, UnionPay, and others). Geographically, UL Brand Test tool is used in most of North and South American countries (including US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and others).

We should stress, that although UL Brand Test tool seems more universal than Visa payWave tool, the latter is a mandatory contact-less payment testing tool, required by Visa regulations in Europe. You can use UL Brand Test tool for certification of MC, Discover, Amex, and Visa contact payments in the EU. However, if you want to go through Visa contact-less certification in European countries, you are required to use only payWave tool.

ICC EMV Toolkit

In contrast to UL toolkits (that include re-programmable card emulators), ICC toolkit our company deals with includes a number of test cards and a hardware device (a card reader) called Identive Cloud. In order to prepare the cards for the tests, respective data is recorded onto them through card reader. The advantage of ICC test cards is that they are re-programmable. One and the same test card can be re-programmed in order to emulate different card payment types.

Usually, when you go through EMV certification, it makes no difference, which EMV toolkit you are using. However, in some cases the processor can require you to use some specific EMV toolkit.

The peculiar feature of ICC toolkit is that if you are working with Vantiv in the US and Canada, you are required to use this particular toolkit (and no other one). Usage of the EMV toolkit by ICC solutions is mandatory, because it includes a special software component, Vantiv Viable, allowing you to generate and record both card logs and host logs and, thus, potentially, make the testing process more efficient.

Our Experience and Recommendations

Based on our experience, we prefer UL toolkit. The main reasons are as follows. First, UL toolkit is cheaper than the ICC Toolkit. Second, UL toolkit includes SmartWave Box with its re-programmable card emulator probe, simplifying routine tests. (Every certification includes three runs of several hundreds of tests. Running around 600 tests on a single probe takes much less time than inserting different cards into the hardware device. Even if you save a minute on each test, it makes a considerable difference).

Undoubtedly, when you are going through certification with Vantiv, usage of ICC EMV toolkit simplifies the process and saves time. However, our experience indicates that while using ICC toolkit, we had to address ICC tech support team more frequently to sort out various technical issues around test scenarios that did not run properly. On the other hand, we should note that support team was always very responsive and assisted us with resolution of the issues within a reasonable time frame.


Your choice of EMV toolkits will be determined by several factors, such as card brands and payment types (contact or contact-less) you are going to process, as well as geographies you are going to operate in. So, make sure to consider these factors carefully before settling on a specific EMV toolkit. Beside UL and ICC Solutions you might consider using EMV toolkit from FIME, another large vendor.

Feel free to consult our specialists at UniPay Gateway, who will be glad to share their experience of EMV toolkit usage.

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