EMV contactless Level 1 certification ensures that the device (also: terminal) meets the lower level electromagnetic and communication protocol requirements. It includes operating distance tests where reference cards are placed at a set of predefined positions in proximity to the device’s antenna. It further covers analogue tests on the used frequency and digital tests on the low-level communication protocol, for example.
Contactless Level 2 certification is concerned with the validation of the software that implements the payment functionality and that runs on the Level 1-certified device. This software is referred to as a payment kernel. The contactless payment brands to be supported (e.g. Mastercard/Maestro Contactless, VISA payWave, or American Express contactless) determine which of the payment kernels are to be implemented.
Contactless Level 3 certification, or brand certification, ensures that the configuration of the software on the devices meets the brand requirements. In the case multiple payment brands are to be supported, all of the respective Level 3 certifications will have to be performed.