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TUCSON, Ariz. — Although the convenience store industry enjoyed record profits in both 2014 and 2015, the costs of upgrading to EMV automated fuel dispensers (AFD) by October 2017 and card skimming at the pump are two major headwinds going forward, Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus, cautioned during his speech kicking off the 2016 Conexxus Annual Conference Monday.
"There is a $4-billion makeover on the horizon," Taylor said regarding EMV.
Although it is an estimate that may be adjusted 10 percent upward or downward, Conexxus predicts it will cost $3.916 billion for the c-store industry to upgrade to EMV — an acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that originally created the security standard — by the liability shift deadline next year.
Conexxus data shows 429,000 fuel dispensers must be upgraded by October 2017, with another 292,000 dispensers needing to be replaced.
The liability shift deadline refers to the date when c-store retailers must upgrade to EMV-capable devices at the forecourt or face the potential of being held financially responsible for fraud taking place at the pump. Retailers are not required by law to make the upgrades. However, Taylor stressed "fraud follows the path of least resistance and will migrate to non-EMV locations."
Those retailers who do not upgrade to EMV at the dispenser can expect to be liable for up to $40,000 in fraudulent transactions in five years' time, according to Taylor. However, he acknowledged upgrading to EMV is expensive, with one-third of c-store retailers not possessing enough cash to make the necessary upgrades.
SKIMMING MUST BE FIXED
Credit card and debit card skimming at the pump is another major concern for convenience store retailers, Taylor noted. "Skimming is something we have to fix," he said.
Skimming refers to when criminals insert an illegal device at the pump in an effort to steal customer information. Unfortunately, skimming has received a lot of coverage from the local press, especially in places like the upper Midwest and Florida, Conexxus' executive director stated.
Media coverage has been so widespread that Taylor revealed he met with the U.S. Secret Service a couple of weeks ago to discuss the problem. "They feel we haven't done anything [to fix the problem]," he said. "We spent an hour and a half showing them we did [do something]."
Larger convenience store retailers have done an excellent job of preventing skimming incidents, he added, but criminals have attacked many smaller chains and individual stores.
For tips on how to both prevent and react to skimming, click here.
The Conexxus Annual Conference, which attracted nearly 170 attendees, continues at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson through May 5.
Conexxus (formerly known as PCATS) is a nonprofit, member-driven technology organization dedicated to the development and implementation of standards, technologies innovation and advocacy for the convenience store and petroleum market.