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EMV Basics and Terminology

Euro MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip technology defines a global standard for credit card and debit card payments.

The EMV technology makes use of embedded microprocessor chips which hold cardholder data and keeps it secure.

In comparison to magnetic stripe technology, a cardholder’s data is more secure on a chip-enabled payment card.  This is because chip technology provides dynamic authentication, which makes the whole process more secure.

EMV technology makes use of smart tools to fight counterfeit fraud with advanced validation and authentication capabilities. It is extremely beneficial for merchant account providers, and companies involved in retail credit card processing and mobile credit card processing.

How Does it Work?

The Euro MasterCard Visa (EMV) device interacts with the chip embedded in the card to verify the card’s authenticity. The terminal asks the card holder to sign or enter a PIN to have their identity verified. Fraud or theft cases are significantly reduced due to enhanced security features of this technology. 

EMV Terminology

Algorithm – An algorithm is a mathematical formula which converts data to codes, in combination with a secret key for encryption. This is to increase data security.

Application PAN – Application Primary Account Number (PAN) is the customer’s account number. The number is linked to a particular application on the Integrated Circuit Card (ICC).

Authentication – The authentication procedure checks whether the identity of a person is valid.

Certificate – A certificate is a public key and identity of an entity. Combined with some other information, the certificate is protected from forgery by signing with the private key of the certification authority which issued that certificate.

Certification Authority – The certification authority links the public key to its true owner.

Chip Card Initialization – This includes the addition of the operating system to the Integrated Circuit Card (ICC).

Chip Card Personalization – This includes writing data to Integrated Circuit Card (ICC) dedicated to individual card holders.

Cryptogram – This process involves encrypting the data to make it secure by applying an algorithm to data.

Digital Signature – A signature is created using asymmetric keys and a cryptographic algorithm. It is essential for protecting the sender and the recipient against forgery by third parties. This also provides protection for the sender against fraud by the recipient.

EMVCo – EMVCo is an LLC created by Visa International, Europay International and MasterCard International, and Visa International. This was formed for better and secure management of EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specifications for Payment Systems.

Encryption – The encryption process includes converting the data to codes by applying an algorithm and a secret key.

Decryption -To convert codes back to their original form, another algorithm together with a secret key is applied. This process is known as decryption.

Issuer Authentication Data – This is the data transmitted from the issuer to the Integrated Circuit Card (ICC) as a consequence of online issuer authentication

Plaintext – The original data which is not encrypted is known as plain text.

Secure Messaging – This includes encryption of sensitive data in commands sent from the issuer to the Integrated Circuit Card (ICC)

Unpredictable Number – Random number generated by the Integrated Circuit Card (ICC)