EMV - Insights & Innovation

Q: When I inserted my EMV chip card into the ATM, I received an error. I ended up having to reinsert my card several times before I could perform my transaction. What could cause my chip card to not read properly?

Sound familiar?

There are two scenarios for these types of errors at an ATM machine. In order for the machine to process chip cards properly, the reader heads within the machine must be able to make direct contact with the chip embedded within the card. In some cases, it could be a damaged chip or the card reader itself could be damaged. This is often due to improper use of the EMV card reader. However, if the card was eventually read, it is more likely to be a dirty card reader.

Smart chips can collect dirt and grime, which could make the chip difficult to read. The chips can also be damaged by scrapes from keys, coins and other items with sharp edges or exposure to liquids. Dirty chips can also transfer contaminants to the sensitive pins, which builds up fairly quickly.

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Similarly, EMV card readers can collect dust and dirt from the environment, making it difficult for the readers to make contact or function properly. ATM operators can avoid this issue by maintaining a regular cleaning schedule to ensure their readers are in peak condition and able to accept transactions.

Terminal usage and external environment are major factors in how often card readers and equipment should be cleaned. ATM cleaning experts KICTeam recommend daily cleaning for external/high use machines and weekly cleaning for internal/lighter use terminals. However, operators should evaluate cleaning results and failure rates to build a proper cleaning schedule for their ATMs.

As many card reader failures can be linked back to improper use of the machine, EMV ready ATMs should utilize a combination of stickers, signs and/or on-screen messaging to inform users of EMV readiness and how to properly utilize the EMV card reader. However ATMs, unlike most non-EMV merchants often do not place signs instructing cardholders to swipe or dip their card. In cases where the ATM is not labeled, users should insert the card and wait for an on-screen prompt to determine proper card reader use. ATM operators should evaluate the messaging at their machines to make sure consumers can easily understand the procedures to utilize each location.

To learn more about proper cleaning of EMV card readers, download the KICTeam white paper from the Nautilus Hyosung America website.

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