The Star (Nairobi)

29 April 2014

Kenya: Banks Card Migration 70 Per Cent Complete - KBA

The migration to use of more secure ATM cards is 70 per cent complete and banks are hopeful of full compliance by end of May, their associaton said yesterday.

The Kenya Bankers Association said the transition from use of magnetic strip ATM cards to the chip based Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV cards) has been "a success" as all banks have upgraded their infrastructure to comply with the new system.

KBA's chief executive Habil Olaka said out of the 12 million credit and debit cards in circulation, an estimated 8.4 million have so far been replaced. "But there have been challenges in delays in certification, importing and personalising the new cards," said Olaka at a media briefing yesterday.

The migration to the EMV card platform started in April 2013 when banks collectively agreed to move with the rest of developed financial markets to curb increasing cases of card related fraud.

The phased migration was started with upgrade of ATM infrastructure by September 30 last year. It was followed by the December 31 deadline for upgrade of point of sales which paved way for the March 31 deadline that the banks failed to meet prompting KBA to extend this to May 31.

Without issuing figures, KBA said the growing cases of card related fraud especially during holiday season calls for urgency in implementation of the new system adding that banks will be liable for any loss after the May 31 deadline.

The EMV cards store personal data on a chip as opposed to a magnetic strip which is more susceptible to information theft through a process called skimming which uses a sophisticated card reading device.

KBA is counting on the new platform to not only reduce fraud but also increase the usage of cards to make payments. "EMV will address ID issues and eliminate the need for people to produce identification documents when making purchases. This will make card payment process faster and more convenient," said KBA director of technical services Fidelis Muia.

Muia said market research reports show that cash purchases account for 95 per cent of all transactions. The two were speaking during the launch of the ATM card safety awareness month. KBA will embark on massive consumer education in May to improve security of data during usage of ATMs.

Banks have started issuing the new cards. Cooperative Bank through its twitter handle said it has already produced new cards and is currently issuing them to customers. Kenya Commercial Bank also said it has started replacing cards in phases.

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