Square slashes EMV card transaction speeds

Square has introduced a new update to its contactless and chip readers that reduces transaction speed to 4.2 seconds.

It’s very interesting watching the US struggle with its adoption of the EMV standard from a UK perspective. Our love affair with the chip (and PIN) began over a decade ago and memorising a four digit number has become (until the rise of contactless and biometrics at least) something we do without anger or questioning. In the US, there seem to be a lot of issues stemming from the mere idea of a chip card – one particularly noticeable one is transaction speeds, not an unreasonable thing to rile against.

Processing chip card payments takes longer than magnetic stripe cards do to more communication and computation required during the transaction. As such, many studies, including one conducted by JDA Software Group Inc., found that chip transactions can take anywhere between 8 to 13 seconds, a frustratingly long time. Companies such as Visa have tried to make chip card transactions more appealing by changing their chargeback policies introducing things like Quick Chip, which allows users to dip and withdraw their cards in two seconds, whilst the merchant process the payment.

Square also appears to understand the importance of making transactions faster as its new chip and contactless reader update reduces the total transaction time down to 4.2 seconds, 25% faster than the company’s previous low of 5.7 seconds. Square says it’s aiming to bring the time down to 3 seconds.

“Consumers and business owners alike loathe waiting for chip cards to process. And we, at Square, feel the same,” said Jesse Dorogusker, Square Hardware Lead.

Related reading