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The chip card rollout has been a costly nightmare for everyone involved

Nicole Sinclair
·Markets Correspondent

New chip cards have been distributed to millions of Americans with the aim of making transactions safer. But to say the rollout has been spotty is an understatement.

The deadline for retailers to switch to chip-enabled payment cards was last October. This was when U.S. credit card companies, including Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA), announced new liability rules that would shift the burden of responsibility for fraudulent transactions to businesses if they didn’t update their technology.

The chip cards, which use what’s known as EMV technology,  have unique transaction codes that make them more secure.

But even as the deadline has passed, merchants have delayed EMV migration. Many retailers have cited avoidance of long lines that develop from the slow process. And other retailers claim they have installed the card readers but are waiting for the credit card industry to do their part.

The extent of the problem is prevalent in the latest earnings report by Verifone (PAY), top dog in the EMV chip market. The company, which provides technology for electronic payment transactions, reported a significant second quarter earnings shortfall earlier this week. The stock fell 25% on Wednesday on the miss, along with the announcement it would cut about 5% of the workforce.

CEO Paul Galant called out delays in US EMV certifications as the key driver behind the earnings shortfall.

“The EMV bottleneck in the U.S. driven by integration and certification complexity and testing delays is beginning to take a far more pronounced toll on the speed of sales and deployment of EMV-ready devices,” he said. “It is also delaying the implementation of higher margin attached services such as our point Payment as a Service offering as well as encryption, tokenization and estate management.”

Galant added that Verifone has also had to dedicate more resources than anticipated to support its US clients with EMV implementations.

“U.S. merchants in particular are suffering from EMV delays and chargeback fees and are seeking our help to get them through this bottleneck,” he said. “We expect this resource intensity and slow down to work its way through.”

There has been a high level of focus on fixing the EMV issue, but delays persist.

“Given the apparent escalated level of fraudulent activity and the growing chargeback fee pressure faced by merchants, the entire U.S. payment industry is working hard to fix this bottleneck and to simplify and expedite the EMV certification processes going forward,” Galant said.

The stock received multiple analyst downgrades after its quarter, including from Barclays, Pacific Crest, and JP Morgan.