September of Our Year: Jobs Better, EMV Chugs Along

In theory, the days after Labor Day mark the beginning of “Fall.” In cooler climes, the unspoken rule about putting white clothing away until next Memorial Day may even apply.

Image result for september of our yearHere at AVPS Central, where we’re looking at temperatures in the mid-80’s for the next few weeks, we don’t worry about shorts, espadrilles, or crisp white cotton in the run-up to Halloween. But we still notice other autumnal signs in the news.

Over at Bill Moyers’ site, comes a Labor Day snapshot declaring that “the story for workers in the United States has improved somewhat over the last year. The economy has created almost 2.5 million jobs, bringing the unemployment rate down by 0.4 percentage points. Perhaps more importantly, the percentage of the population that is employed also increased by 0.4 percentage points, meaning that unemployment is falling… (though) still the employment rate for prime-age workers (ages 25-54) is still down by 2.5 percentage points from its pre-recession peak, and almost 4 percentage points from its 2000 peaks.”

Additionally, “real wages are growing again. The average real hourly wage for non-supervisory workers rose by more than two percent during the last year. This is the second consecutive increase of this size, following seven years of virtual stagnation in wages for most workers.”

All of which would seem to augur well for the upcoming rounds of holiday spending, except for the notes of uncertainty introduced by the election — a matter which won’t be “settled,” to any relative degree, until we’re closer to Thanksgiving.

This fall also marks the start of some other countdowns, too, notably a one year march toward October 2017, when service stations will have to be equipped with EMV-ready card readers, much as retailers have been for the past year.  According to the website for convenience and fuel retailers, “many convenience retailers are advancing mobile payment technology to meet consumer demand for contactless/cardless payment options both inside the store and the pump.”

This ahead of the EMV deadline when the liability will switch from banks to merchants, for any point-of-sale fraud that happens with un-updated equipment.

And yet, even with updated devices, the changeover is still slow.  As the Recode website notes, “merchants who had EMV terminals ready and waiting in their stores had to wait months for a qualified technician to come and certify it. While they were waiting, they were liable for any fraudulent orders.” Additionally, “customers face a messy patchwork of payment norms. You might need to swipe your card (or) you might need to dip it,” and it still might not be as secure a transaction as promised if the merchant hasn’t fully upgraded.

Image result for EMV card vintageBut in spite of all that, “EMV is already working. MasterCard said counterfeit card fraud is down at its Top 5 EMV-enabled merchants by more than 60 percent since October 2015. Of course, that’s not as helpful as it might be, since currently only 30 percent of merchant locations on MasterCard’s network are able to accept chip cards, but it’s a good indication. EMV has been troublesome, confusing and annoying, but it does do what it was intended to do. It does cut counterfeit fraud.”

So from now until our next “fall kick-off,” the number of EMV terminals will increase, the measures and counter-measures to prevent fraud will similarly rise, and so will alternative forms of payment, like mobile and contactless.

We’ll be letting you know all about them on the road ahead, whether you’re wearing white canvas sneakers, or heavy herringbone jackets.  And if you need to get better prepped for those journeys and months ahead, with payment options and upgrades, AVPS is herewinter, spring, summer, or… you guessed it.

 

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