If you are tired of how much longer check-out at a store is taking since the rollout of new chip-enable credit and debit cards, relief may be on the way.
Visa said on Tuesday it had upgraded its software to improve the processing of chip-enabled cards and reduce checkout times. The payments company said the upgrade will let shoppers quickly dip and remove their chip credit card in two seconds, rather than having to leave the card in the terminal while the transaction is going through.
All told, this could remove 18 seconds from the typical transaction time and also help customers still used to the speed of swiping a card through a device that reads its magnetic strip rather than need the customer to insert a card into a reader and leave it there until the transaction is done.
The move by Visa is aimed at addressing a big complaint from retailers since the rollout last year of cards equipped with chips designed to reduce fraud and breaches. (The data breaches at Target and The Home Depot in 2013 and 2014 were watershed moments in cybersecurity and pressured the industry to adopt such cards.)
“Overall, there was some merchant dissatisfaction with how long it was taking to process the transaction,” Ellen Richey, Visa’s vice chairman of risk and public policy, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. So far, more than 265 million Visa credit and debit chip cards have been issued. Retailers that missed a deadline last October to upgrade terminals and accept chip cards are now on the hook for fraudulent transactions.
Many retailers themselves are looking to cut down those times, all in the name of making in-store shopping as easy as possible at a time customers can easily go to Amazon.com.
Walmart, for one, has eliminated a prompt asking customers to confirm the amount of the transaction, something that reduced check-out time by 11 seconds, a spokesman confirmed to Fortune. That is just one of many steps it has taken to reach that goal.
Such little irritants can add up and impede the checkout experience at a time Walmart has made it a top priority to improve in-store customer service, including checkout. For the last two holiday seasons, Walmart has sought to staff all cash registers at peak times to speed up the process. The tweaks to the card processing are part of that. Walmart has reported five straight quarters of increased shopper traffic in stores and six of comparable sales growth, so the chain is leaving little to chance to keep that streak going.
The Journal cited a study conducted by JDA Software that found that using a chip card typically added 8 to 12 seconds per check-out process.
If that adds up, it leads to frustrated shoppers, the last thing any retailer needs today in this tough retail climate.
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