4 April 2013

Kenyan Banks Boost Card Security

Nairobi — All commercial banks in the country are expected to have migrated their ATM, credit and debit cards from the magnetic strip technology to the EMV Chip and PIN technology by September 30 this year to eradicate increasing fraud.

EMV which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, is a global standard for credit and debit payments based on a chip card which stores the customers' personal information to make transactions. The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) has already engaged all its members who have agreed to comply with the move to protect customers from the vice.

The association's CEO Habil Olaka said the move follows numerous loopholes in the current magnetic strip technology on the cards making it easy for the fraudsters to access all the personal information and make the illegal transactions.

"It's usually at specific time when fraud increase and it's not just ATMs alone but across the board. For example over the Christmas period, most people have a lot of cash in their pocket and accounts," Olaka noted. The banking industry will spend over Sh2 billion on the process.

Last year the banks' umbrella body started an ATM safety awareness campaign dubbed 'Kaa Chonjo' expected to continue this year to educate customers on protecting their PINs and other relevant card information.

"In the meantime we know that systems are still vulnerable and that is why we have this campaign to educate the consumer public on basic tips that one need to be aware of when you enter and ATM lobby or while making any transactions using other cards," he said.

According to the Central Bank Kenya (CBK) there are more than nine million ATM and debit card holders in Kenya who can use their cards at approximately 2,300 ATMs and 18,400 point of sale units in the country.

Last year, there were more than 10.7 million ATM, credit and debit cards in circulation representing a six percent increase over the previous year with the value of ATM transactions alone going beyond Sh156 billion.

The association is yet to collect data and come up with the actual number of fraud cases and the money lost.

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