Five Myths About EMV Every Health Club Owner Needs to Know

One myth about the liability shift on credit cards is that upgrading to accept EMV credit cards is a law Photo courtesy Jonas Fitness


You’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about a liability shift in credit card fraud — especially because the shift happens in less than a month. But if you’re new to the concept, here’s a recap: Come Oct. 1, 2015, you could be on the hook for certain types of in-person credit card fraud if you aren’t set up to accept chip credit cards under a new standard called EMV for the three developers of the standard: Europay, Mastercard and Visa.

It’s all in the name of making the way we pay more secure. The banks are issuing EMV chip-and-pin cards (which are more secure than magnetic-stripe cards) as part of this effort. And business owners are being asked to do their part by upgrading their payment terminals to accept EMV. To accelerate things, if your health club or business doesn’t accept EMV chip card payments by October, the liability for certain types of counterfeit fraud could fall on you.

Truth be told, there are a lot of scare tactics out there about the liability shift, but there’s no cause for alarm. Since there’s a lot of talk out there, we thought it would be helpful to debunk some myths about what’s happening with the liability shift.

Here are some common misconceptions:

Myth 1: Upgrading to EMV by October 2015 is a law.

A lot of people get this wrong. There’s actually no law that requires businesses to be EMV compliant by October. It’s up to each individual business to decide whether or not they want to upgrade. What is changing is the way that the banks and the processing networks handle fraudulent charges. The liability for certain types of in-person fraud could be passed on to your business after Oct. 1, 2015, if you haven’t upgraded to an EMV payment terminal in your club. So even though it’s not officially a law, it’s a good idea to protect your business by ordering an EMV payment terminal soon.

Myth 2: Upgrading to accept EMV is too expensive.

Club owners who choose to upgrade to an EMV payment terminal may be surprised about how affordable they are. Your software company or payment processor should offer highly secure, EMV-compliant terminals for every budget. They also should allow you to rent or buy the terminals that will be integrated with your specific CMS software.

Myth 3: Once you implement EMV, your club can’t accept magnetic-stripe cards.

Just because you accept EMV cards doesn’t mean you can’t still process magnetic-stripe cards. (Most chip cards also have a magnetic-stripe on the back.) Most EMV payment terminals will still allow you to take payments with a magnetic stripe credit card. But remember, if your member hands over a chip card to pay, you’ll need to process it as an EMV transaction (dip the card instead of swipe it) to be protected from the liability shift.

Myth 4: Only merchants with high volume need to worry about EMV.

Certain club owners may think that because their transaction amounts are lower, they are less of a target. According to Constellation Payments, when EMV was implemented in the United Kingdom, for example, the targets for fraud tended to be those who had the least secure systems, and that was almost always the business owners who had yet to convert to EMV. Once the majority of U.K. businesses upgraded to EMV terminals, terminal-based fraud dropped significantly.

Myth 5: The liability shift applies to all fraudulent charges at your business.

This one’s a bit complicated. Many business owners think that the liability shift will make you responsible for all fraud at your business. Not the case. The liability shift only applies to a small subset of fraudulent transactions, known as “card-present” counterfeit EMV fraud. Essentially, this means that if a fraudster pays with a counterfeit EMV card at your gym and you process the payment as a magnetic-stripe transaction, you could be held liable and will have to absorb the costs. Reason being that, if you had processed it as an EMV transaction; the fraud would have been detected. Another way to think about it is that the liability shifts to the party with the lesser technology.

There’s a lot of information out there about the liability shift, but we hope that now you can spot some of the most common misconceptions.


Scott M. Burgess is the Vice President of Operations for Jonas Fitness, Inc. He is responsible for the daily operations of the Jonas Fitness data center, software and EFT support, managed billing services, and implementations. Scott’s responsibilities include providing overall leadership to the division, strategic short-term and long-range planning along with program development, and defining operational goals. All while ensuring the entire operations team is delivering on world-class service to our clients. Before joining Jonas Fitness, Scott was Director of Client Services for the CheckFree banking electronic commerce division responsible for the project management, engineering, certification testing and support services implementation teams. Scott’s background includes 15 years’ experience in operational support and implementation of software and services in the health and fitness and electronic commerce industries. Along with over 11 years of executive management experience. In addition to Scott’s professional experience, his academic background includes a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University. If you have questions regarding upgrading your health club to an EMV-ready solution, please email the Jonas Fitness EMV team at [email protected].

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.