EMVCo, the payment technology standards entity controlled by the world’s biggest card companies, is ready for input from outsiders on its latest contactless payment technology specifications.
EMVCo, the company behind the contactless symbol at payment terminals, said Monday in a press release that the new draft contactless specifications are being made public for a comment period until June 20, with the expectation that they will be finalized before the end of this year.
The new contactless “kernel” specifications are an attempt to simplify the existing contactless system by which merchants accept contactless payments worldwide. A kernel is a set of interface functions, including for security and control, used by a card acceptance device, such as a point-of-sale terminal, to accept a payment.
There are currently some 20 different contactless payment “kernels” in use by merchants around the world to accept contactless payments, the release said. The new specifications are aimed at streamlining use of the technology and reducing the complexity and cost of the multi-kernel system.
“Ultimately, this can over time help reduce the number of contactless kernels that stakeholders need to support and maintain, creating opportunities for merchants, hardware providers and payment systems to reduce costs, and improve roll-out speed and time to market,” said EMVCo Executive Committee Chair Robin Trickel said in the release.
The effort is driven by the owners of EMVCo, including the namesake Europay, Mastercard and Visa, as well as the U.S. card companies American Express and Discover Financial, plus JCB of Japan.
The 312-page draft contactless specifications being made public now were also reviewed by EMVCo associates throughout February and March, the release said. Those associates include major payments processors such as FIS, Adyen and Fiserv as well as big tech companies like Microsoft and Google and newer fintechs such as Stripe and Square. Merchants, such as Target and Amazon, are also associates, according to the EMVCo website.
The new contactless standard will further innovation in the contactless arena, according to American Express. “This new EMV Contactless Kernel Specification creates new opportunities for merchants, POS terminal vendors, and domestic payment systems to simplify acceptance, reduce costs, increase speed to market, and innovate,” Amex Executive Vice President Matthew Robinson said in a statement.
“American Express is committed to adopting and supporting the specification over a multi-year transition as it encourages cloud innovation and advances seamless and secure contactless payments globally," Robinson added.
EMVCo's review of the new contactless kernel specifications over the past two years included querying market participants and hiring two consulting research firms for a feasibility study, a spokesperson for the company said.
Following the end of the public comment period in June, EMVCo’s board of advisors will vote on whether to approve the final specifications. The board is made up of EMVCo associates, the spokesperson said.