Modular EMV vs. Standard EMV: Why Regular EMV Certification is No Longer Enough

EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, and denotes a leading worldwide transaction authentication standard. Around the world, Organizations use EMV® Specifications to develop and deploy card-based payment products that will work in tandem, seamlessly and securely. This is critical for the enablement of expedient, reliable and secure payments. Merchants using systems that do not support EMV are liable for all fraudulent transactions!

EMVCo manages and evolves the EMV® Specifications and related testing processes. EMV Specifications cover a wide range of technologies that support card-based payments, including Contact, Contactless, Mobile, Payment Tokenization, QR Code, Secure Remote Commerce, and 3-D Secure.

While EMV certification has become a leading global standard, many operators and integrators are not aware of the big difference between standard EMV certification and modular EMV certification. To date, there are only four companies in the world who can provide “future-proof” modular EMV certification.


The standard approach is based on a brand specific Letter of Approval (LOA) – meaning that each brand provides a specific LOA (for example a Visa LOA, a MasterCard LOA, etc.). When it comes to Re-certification, the process has to be redone every time a new hardware device is added or changed or when software changes are initiated.

With the latest EMVCo certification model, (also known as ‘Entry Point’), the L2 Certification is produced by EMVCo. A single LOA includes all the kernels needed to enable kiosk vendors and systems integrators to add EMV functionality to their payment solutions. Using this approach will enable you to “future-proof” your system by shortening processes and enabling a much quicker response to changes.

Terminal manufacturers may apply also for ‘Modular EMV certification’. With modular certification, the terminal software architecture is tested, reviewed and proven to be modular, so that changes in one module (e.g. a MasterCard kernel) will not affect other modules (e.g. a Visa kernel).

This has a significant impact on changes recertification. Instead of requiring tens of updates whenever something is changed in the terminal software, you only need to test and certify specific modules that were changed. EMVCo’s Modular architecture certification allows “Optimized Certification Processes” which streamline EMV Type Approval by limiting the tests required of the modified product software modules.

The benefits of this approach are numerous:
• Quicker, simpler means to attain EMV certification and compliance
• Lower costs for certifications and updates
• Simplified certification process for product variants
• Freedom from binding support contracts
• A wide range of EMV Kernels to match terminal architecture
• Changing one kernel does not require certifying the others

The bottom line can be summed up as such; it definitely pays to work with partners who can guarantee ease of implementation as well as changes in the future, and the total cost and effort you will need to get the desired results.


Contact OTI to find out more about how deep experience, an advanced EMV Modular kernel approach, and a rich product offering can deliver cost efficiencies as well as futureproofing.

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