Wichita company handles businesses’ chip card changeover needs (+video)

VIDEO: Changing to the chip card

Diane Wynn of Acumen Business Solutions talks about helping Wichita area firms with the EMV chip card mandate. (Bryan Horwath/The Wichita Eagle)
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Diane Wynn of Acumen Business Solutions talks about helping Wichita area firms with the EMV chip card mandate. (Bryan Horwath/The Wichita Eagle)

With the credit industry’s chip card changeover date a few weeks away, one Wichita company has kept busy by supplying area businesses with the necessary tools.

Acumen Business Connections, at 1999 N. Amidon, is one of the only places in the region to offer what owner Diane Wynn calls a “full-service payment processing service.” It has been supplying more merchant customers with new chip card-reading payment terminals lately, but not as many as some might think.

“It’s been steady, but certainly not spectacular,” Wynn said. “One of the issues with the changeover is the misinformation that is out there. What makes it difficult at times are some of the robo-call operations out there attempting to make sales of certain products. Those people don’t have a clue about the payment processing business and are just told to give a spiel. We were told recently by one of our merchants that someone called them saying the federal government made this chip card mandate a law.”

The switch to the EMV – Europay, MasterCard, Visa – chip card standard, of course, has nothing to do with the feds and was instead initiated by the big credit card companies. Beginning Oct. 1, merchants, instead of banks, will be liable for fraudulent charges incurred instead of the card processor or issuing bank.

The change deals exclusively with what the industry calls “card-present fraud,” which does not include fraudulent acts perpetuated over the Internet. Technically, the move means that the party – card issuer or merchant – that is the least EMV-compliant in cases of fraud will be held liable. Consumers will be protected from being liable for such criminal activity.

Wynn said her company mostly services small businesses, though it does have larger clients, including a large nationally known business with a significant presence in Wichita. The chip-reading terminal of choice for Acumen is the VeriFone VX 520, which, Wynn said, is one of the EMV-compliant terminals now on the market.

The VeriFone model also is near field communication capable, Wynn said, which means it can receive payment from e-wallets set up on consumers’ mobile devices, such as Apple Pay.

“Change is always hard, and sometimes merchants are worried about the cost,” Wynn said. “In fact, a lot of them haven’t been aware of the change until recently. We haven’t seen quite the demand as I’m sure there is in higher-populated areas.”

Wynn, who bought Acumen in 2004, said changing out one terminal typically costs around $300 to $400 (the VeriFone model listed above costs $289 through Acumen), which can be a significant un-budgeted expense for some small business owners.

However, Craig Walker, Acumen’s vice president of technical operations, said the change is really geared toward larger big box-type merchants that handle many more transactions.

“Bad guys who make counterfeit cards aren’t going to typically head over to your average small business,” Walker said. “They’re going to Best Buy to buy 50 TVs with their fake credit card. That said, criminals do prey on small businesses, too, because they tend to be less sophisticated, especially when it comes to less advanced card advancement security features.”

Walker said he wouldn’t be surprised to see fraud related to small businesses increase as bigger corporate merchants continue to implement the EMV standard, which has been common in Europe and other areas of the world for years.

“Unfortunately for some merchants, they’re paying anywhere from $800 to $1,200 or more for the equipment,” Walker said. “A customer can buy a VeriFone model from us for much less or rent one for $20 per month.”

Wynn said Acumen has so far helped several dozen businesses with their EMV payment processing conversion needs. The date when liability transfers to merchants is Oct. 1.

Reach Bryan Horwath at 316-269-6708 or Follow him on Twitter: @bryan_horwath.

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