Deploying EMV Issuance Solutions With Enhanced Security and Efficiency

The payments industry is undergoing a rapid worldwide transition to Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) chip card technology, the global standard for credit and debit payment cards. EMV is expected to accelerate mobile payment innovation while ensuring more secure transactions. Integrators helping their customers deploy this technology will need to follow a number of critical best practices for issuing contact and/or contactless EMV cards with the highest possible security assurances, while also enabling instant issuance capabilities at thousands of branch offices and other locations.

The EMV Integrated Circuit Card specifications are managed, maintained and enhanced by EMVCo, LLC, which was formed in February 1999 by Europay International, MasterCard International and Visa International. EMVCo’s objective is to ensure interoperability and acceptance of payment system integrated circuit cards on a worldwide basis. 

According to EMVCo, EMV has been implemented in more than 80 countries around the world, with approximately 1.5 billion EMV cards issued globally and 21.9 million POS terminals accepting EMV cards at the end of 2011. EMVCo says that the U.S. payments infrastructure is now moving to EMV with incentives and requirements for issuers, acquirers/processors and merchants to adopt EMV over the next few years. One of the last countries to migrate to EMV, the U.S. has seen several key developments during 2011 and 2012 as American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa all announced plans for moving to an EMV-based payments infrastructure in the U.S.

As EMVCo explains, the biggest benefit of EMV is the reduction in card fraud resulting from counterfeit, lost and stolen cards. EMV also provides interoperability with the global payments infrastructure, ensuring that consumers with EMV chip payment cards can use their card on any EMV-compatible payment terminal. EMVCo cites the ability to support enhanced cardholder verification methods as an additional benefit of EMV technology, along with its ability to be used for secure online payment transactions.

EMVCo also highlights EMV technology’s enhanced functionality for card authentication, cardholder verification and transaction authorization as three keys to its security benefits.  Additionally, because EMV cards store payment information in a secure chip rather than on a magnetic stripe and use issuer-specific keys for all personalization, it is virtually impossible to create a usable counterfeit EMV card. 

To optimize EMV card security and efficiency, integrators must take a multi-layered approach to both card validation and issuance system management.   Also, in order to support the instant-issuance requirements of customers with thousands of bank branches, integrators will need to deliver card personalization solutions that combine the high-volume reliability and advanced credentialing features of larger centralized printers with the lower cost and smaller footprint required for an instant-issuance, distributed printing model.

Multi-Layered Approach for EMV Card Validation and Issuance Security

Multi-layered card validation is ensured through both two-dimensional and three-dimensional personalization elements. Two-dimensional elements including standard-resolution photos as well as more secure high-resolution photos, holographic card overlaminates and laser-engraved attributes.  EMV cards go beyond these elements to include a third dimension:  storing payment information in a secure chip.  All cryptographically secure personalization is performed using issuer-specific keys so that it is virtually impossible to create a counterfeit EMV card that can be used to successfully conduct an EMV payment transaction.

The best printer/encoder choice for personalizing contact or contactless cards that incorporate these two- and three-dimensional elements is a unit that employs high definition printing (HDP) retransfer technology. This technology produces crisp, high-definition, continuous-tone images on technology cards made from a variety of materials, including those with embedded electronics.  Unlike traditional direct-to-card (DTC) print technology, HDP technology transfers printed images to a special film that is then fused smoothly to the card, sealing the image under the film for increased durability and fraud protection. This printing approach also eliminates risks of misprints from irregularities or abnormalities on or below the card’s surface, and allows images to be printed on one or both sides and over the card edge. HDP retransfer technology yields higher print quality with vibrant colors and sharp text and graphics that replicate the look of preprinted cards, and is ideally suited for producing cards carrying a contact chip, or contactless cards with an embedded antenna. 

HDP printing solutions feature encoding capabilities for magnetic stripeand both contact and contactless smart cards. By equipping these printers with smart card encoding modules and utilizing third-party card issuance software, integrators can develop a variety of contact and contactless EMV smart card encoding solutions with custom features and capabilities. Solutions can be developed for a standard, direct-to-card printer platform, as well as point of sale (POS) terminals and other equipment, enabling financial institutions to produce and encode EMV cards that can be read by a variety of PIN pads, POS terminals and other payment devices featuring compatible encoder and reader solutions. 

In addition to protecting the integrity of credentials and cardholders by using a printer/encoder solution that supports multiple layers of visual and digital security, it is also critical to protect the integrity of the overall issuance system through a multi-layered security approach.

First, limit access to physical components by unauthorized users. Mechanical locks should be used to control access to printers, including the card input and output hoppers as well as the rejected cards. Some printers include a lockable security housing that protects cards in the input, reject  and output hoppers, and which can be bolted to a countertop. Physical locks should also be placed on all access points to protect consumables such as ribbon and film. 

The second layer is electronic security. This includes using personal identification numbers (PINs) to control operator access to each printer. It is important to ensure that print job data packets meet or exceed advanced encryption standards. This is necessary to ensure system privacy, integrity and authentication all the way through to the final issuance endpoint. Some printers also include an internal print server for secure network printing.

The third layer is to ensure automatic elimination of personal data on used print ribbon panels. Some card printers increase security by including integrated sensors that only permit the use of custom print ribbons and holographic card overlaminates in authorized printers.

Convenienceand Efficiency

With a solid security foundation in place, integrators should next evaluate available solutions in terms of their convenience and efficiency features. Printers should include a variety of operational convenience features to optimize uptime. To improve efficiency, some solutions include capabilities like cartridge-based card handling for simple reloading or changing of card stock, and the use of high-yield ribbon and film cartridges to enable quick loading while eliminating the waste of torn materials from re-spooling.

These and other features enable integrators to provide their customers with a convenient and efficient solution for issuing EMV cards. A key objective of financial institutions is to be able to
create a personal connection with their customers by physically handing them EMV cards. This can raise customer service and loyalty to a new level. 

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