EMV Cards and Your Car Wash


EMV is the new standard for smart credit cards. Broadly, the term EMV is used for the technical standard, the cards themselves and the readers that accept them. Also called ‘chip cards’, most EMV cards still have the old magnetic swipe strips. As they are phased in, these new ‘chip and pin’ cards will lead to more secure transactions as the chip contains encrypted codes that cannot be copied by a retail clerk. This information provides assurance that the actual card is present in the transaction. Optionally requiring a personal pin number further secures the transaction by associating the owner to the card.

Time to implement?

As a leading provider of unattended payment systems for the car wash industry, Ryko believes it’s premature for car wash retailers to invest in today’s EMV technology. We’ll offer EMV readers for our payment systems when hardware and software solutions evolve to present clear benefits and non-disruptive service for car washes.

Car washes aren’t required to implement EMV card readers and there’s no evidence they will be mandated in the future. Additionally, the cost to upgrade to EMV on both existing and new pay-stations is high, and the savings from avoiding chargebacks on car washes will be small.

Read on to learn more about EMV card readers in the car wash industry.

EMV reader, mag stripe reader, or both?

This can be a dilemma. If a lost, stolen or counterfeit chip-card is accepted at your car wash by a mag stripe reader, the transaction may ultimately be charged back to you. But, if your pay-station presents only an EMV reader, loss of business from customers who don’t have chip cards (or don’t know how to use them) and EMV incompatibility with card-based car wash loyalty programs will lower your wash counts.

What about PIN keypads?

There are no firm guidelines around PIN keypads and it’s unlikely that PIN numbers will be required for transactions under $25—which is typical for an unattended car wash purchase.

For these reasons, Ryko doesn’t recommend using PIN keypads in unattended car wash payment terminals.

If I choose to upgrade, what should I look for in EMV readers?

If you choose to upgrade, wait until your customers have become familiar with the EMV process. Your EMV readers should be outdoor-rated, water-resistant and used only when they will not disrupt car wash loyalty programs.