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Four reasons why the EMV transition matters to small business

By Chairman Steve Chabot

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Washington, October 20, 2015 | comments
At the Small Business Committee, we make it our job to understand what’s helping and hurting those small businesses that employ roughly half of the private sector and support every community in America. So when new technology impacts every person who holds a major credit card and the more than 20 million small businesses that accept them, we should talk about it.

This month, the transition to EMV chip technology for credit card purchases officially went into effect. The deadline for places of business to begin utilizing chip technology was October 1, but many small businesses remain unclear on how this transition impacts them. What is even more uncertain is what small businesses need to do to make this move as seamless as possible for their customers.

On Oct. 7, our committee held its first hearing on this topic. We listened to experts in the financial services and electronic payments industries explain the security rationale behind the new chip technology in major credit cards, how the liability for cyber fraud shifts with this transition, and what’s expected of small businesses with these new payment systems. This Wednesday, we’re having a second hearing on this issue to hear directly from small businesses about what this new technology means to them and their customers.

Change is hard enough in theory, but when it impacts millions of people, controversy is inevitable. That’s probably the reason the Small Business Committee’s hearings on the EMV transition specifically are the first of their kind in this Congress. From the moment we announced we would explore what the EMV transition means for small businesses, we’ve had tremendous pushback from all sides. To me, this only confirms that this is the right issue, the right time, and the right venue for a fair, open conversation.

Here are four reasons why I believe it’s important we explore this transition and its impact on America’s small businesses:

This transition impacts every customer

Most people who have a credit card or a debit card have received a new one in the mail with the new chip technology, and if they haven’t, the credit card companies say it’s on the way. On top of that, data shows that roughly half of everyone who has a job in the private sector goes to work in a small business every day. So, the odds are, if they’re not learning how to implement this new payment system at work, they’re using it when they set out to buy something themselves.

This technology creates an opportunity to understand how to protect ourselves from cyber threats

Cyber threats are real. American consumers are concerned about their security with good reason, and this transition has its roots in security enhancement. The better we understand the best ways to protect ourselves from cyber theft and how, or even if, new-and-improved credit cards help with that, the better we’re protecting not only American businesses but the individuals who power them.

It’s a private-sector solution

We’re always talking about how the private sector offers better solutions than the federal government could ever mandate. The transition to EMV was conceived and executed within the private sector. If we take a good, hard look at what has and hasn’t worked in this transition, we’re better equipped to meet whatever technology hands us next. If the government has best served small businesses and their customers by staying out of the way on this one, that’s worth knowing.

This is a chance for us to look forward for a change

Members of the Small Business Committee get to explore private sector innovation every day, and it’s inspiring. Putting our heads together and understanding technology, its impact, and its future instead of waiting for a problem to start is the sort of forward thinking we depend on from the people who are driving our economy and should expect from our leaders in Congress.

No member of Congress who puts forth his or her best effort in representing their communities at home, the people who live there, and the small businesses that keep them going, can do their job without rolling up their sleeves and tackling all sides of an issue. I’m proud that we’ve made that a habit at the Small Business Committee, and hope you’ll join us as we continue to support America’s small businesses.

To see this piece on The Hill's Congress Blog, click here.

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