Trailblazing with EMV

Five County Credit Union, headquartered in Bath, ME, was the first credit union to partner with Synergent to implement EMV chip cards. Kenneth H. Stockford, Five County Credit Union’s Senior Vice President of Finance & Technology and CFO, shared with Synergent the trailblazing experience his credit union had.

What benefits has implementing EMV chip cards provided to your membership and staff?

EMV for debit cards (PIN networks), was a long time coming in the United States. The implementation of EMV really helps to protect cardholders against POS fraudulent transactions as a result of card compromises and counterfeit cards.

Synergent worked diligently with all parties involved to not only get the cards approved by VISA, then stagger issuance to our cardholders in a manner to help control costs and ensure that card expiration dates are distributed over time.

You worked with Synergent Direct Marketing Services on member communications. How did that help you prepare?

We worked with DMS to develop an insert that would be included in each card mailing. This educational insert was intended to help answer cardholder questions and resulted in a reduction in the number of phone calls the mailing could have created.

How receptive were your members to the change with the member education provided to them?

We did not receive any negative feedback from cardholders. The feedback we did receive was positive and in some instances was just a thank you for finally offering EMV.

How was working with Synergent valuable to Five County CU during the transition and what were the challenges of being an early-adopter?

Synergent was vital in the implementation process. Weekly meetings with all parties involved were arranged by Synergent and Visa. These meetings ensured that everyone involved was on the same page.

We wanted to be an early adopter of EMV for a long time. Our credit card portfolio had implemented EMV a few years earlier. But due to the complexity and lack of collaboration between the PIN networks, the debit card portfolio took much longer to get started. Being an early adopter, we have been able to replace all cards prior to the Visa liability shift for POS transactions and be able to show our cardholders that we care about their security and can offer the same protections as the big banks.

One of the biggest challenges as an early adopter was patience. Each party involved was trying to build a process that could be duplicated with future implementations.

What tips would you provide to other credit unions who are still going through the transition?

Start the process sooner than later. Work with Synergent to stagger the mailings and expiration dates. Set a date and include it in the mailings for the old card to stop working.

What efficiencies have you found? How has EMV helped you with fraud control?

The number of disputed POS transactions that we have charge-back rights on has increased since implementation.