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Visa, Mastercard delay deadline for upgrade of gasoline pumps

Visa and Mastercard will give merchants until October 2020 to adopt chip-card technology, three years later than previously planned.
Visa and Mastercard will give merchants until October 2020 to adopt chip-card technology, three years later than previously planned.Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. pushed back the deadline for installing chip-card readers in US gasoline pumps after station owners complained they didn’t have enough time to complete the multibillion-dollar upgrades.

The world’s largest payments networks will give merchants until October 2020 to adopt the technology, three years later than previously planned, the companies said Thursday in separate statements. Visa said it will monitor payment trends at the pump to help gas-station operators and card-issuing banks prevent fraud during the interim period.

‘‘In some cases, older pumps may need to be replaced before adding chip readers, requiring specialized vendors and breaking into concrete,’’ San Francisco-based Visa said in a statement on its website. Sufficient supplies of compliant hardware and software to enable upgrades by 2017 remain an issue, the company said.

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Station operators will spend almost $30,000 per store to replace the payment systems at pumps, bringing the total cost for the industry to about $4 billion, data compiled by the National Association of Convenience Stores show. Card fraud costs the industry $250 million a year, according to Conexxus, a firm that provides technology standards for convenience stores and gas stations.

Visa and Mastercard have been pushing for a migration to chip readers to head off counterfeit cards. The technology — named EMV for founders Europay, Mastercard, and Visa — generates new codes for each transaction, while the codes on magnetic stripes are permanent and can be copied and stored by hackers for later use.

‘‘It is a priority for Mastercard to ensure consumers can confidently shop anywhere, any time,’’ the Purchase, N.Y.-based company said in an e-mailed statement. ‘‘We will be working closely with our fuel partners, station owners, industry associations, and third-party vendors to ensure a smooth transition to EMV.’’

Banks are currently responsible for covering any fraud that happens on consumers’ cards at gas pumps. After Visa’s deadline, the liability for covering that fraud shifts to gas station operators for those that haven’t upgraded their terminals in time.

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Analysts including SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s Andrew Jeffrey said the delay could affect the shares of companies that provide such technology.

The decision to delay the deadline is the second time in a month that Visa has announced moves to appease merchants after years of tense relations between the two groups fueled by arguments over fees. Last week, the firm said it would revise its rules for using the new chip technology for debit-card transactions after some retailers claimed the requirements inhibited competition.