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EMVCo has issued a new specification bulletin that makes it mandatory for contactless payment terminal suppliers to make use of IQ demodulation techniques in order to receive EMVCo certification.

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The IQ modulation update has been published in Specification Bulletin 245[1] and incorporated into the EMV Level 1 Specifications for Payment Systems, EMV Contactless Interface Specification v3.1.

IQ demodulation improves the contactless payments user experience by providing both more reliable data transmission, which improves transaction speeds, and by offering greater flexibility in terms of where a card or device needs to be positioned in order to be read by a payment terminal, the standards body says.

“Modulation refers to the process of transmitting data via a carrier signal between two objects – in this case, a payment card or device and the payment terminal.

“Currently, EMV payment acceptance terminals are required to generate the communication field on which the card or payment device would respond, which they are expected to do in a basic form known as amplitude modulation.

“In reality, the signal received by the payment acceptance terminal from the payment device often contains a mixture of in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) components, ie IQ modulation. This is due to the increasing variety of payment devices, which may generate a more complex response than a passive plastic chip card.”

“All EMV-compliant terminals will be required to apply IQ demodulation techniques to receive EMVCo certification. Many terminals have this functionality today but have neither activated nor tested it within the payment environment.”

“With more intelligent payment devices being used to pay for goods and services, it is vital that terminals can respond and accept payments to avoid future interoperability issues and transaction failures,” EMVCo Executive Committee Chair Junya Tanaka explains.

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