Bank uses chip technology to boost card security

Bank South Pacific (B.S.P.) has moved to boost the security of its debit card and is now issuing customers in Samoa with chip-enabled cards. 

Owners of the B.S.P. Visa Debit cards will now get cards equipped with chips known as the E.M.V. – which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa – which are considered global standard as the computer-chip cards will enable the bank to authenticate chip-card transactions and improve the overall security of the cards.

B.S.P. Group Chief Executive Officer, Robin Fleming, said the card’s security features upgrade will make it more difficult for fraudsters. 

"These new and improved cards are being deployed to improve payment security, making it more difficult for fraudsters to counterfeit cards," he said.  

"It's used worldwide and is an important step forward for B.S.P."

The bank, in a statement released over the weekend, said the enhancement will be implemented, to counter and protect customers and the bank against security breaches and counterfeit card fraud. Most major card issuers around the world have migrated to this new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud and B.S.P. will also be migrating into this new technology.

“The EMV-enabled cards offer several benefits over the current magnetic-strip cards. The chip cards will have a small, metallic square you will see on new B.S.P. Visa Debit cards. That is a computer chip, and it is what sets it apart from the rest of the cards,” the bank statement reads.

Taitu’uga Maryann Lameko-Vaai, the BSP Samoa Country Head, said the current magnetic stripe-cards are risky as data is stored on the magnetic stripes.

“The magnetic stripes on cards store unchanging data. Whoever accesses that data gains the sensitive card and cardholder information necessary to make purchases. That makes traditional cards prime targets for counterfeiters, who convert stolen card data to cash,” she said.

“If someone copies a magnetic stripe, they can easily replicate that data over and over again because it doesn't change. Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that can only be used once.

“If a hacker stole the chip information from one specific point of sale, typical card duplication would never work because the stolen transaction number created in that instance cannot be used again and so the card would just get denied.”

Mr. Fleming added that due to the cards’ security upgrade, fraudsters have avoided nations that have moved to EM cards, which he said could translate to increased risks for card users in states like Samoa who still use magnetic stripe cards. 

“With the introduction of the new B.S.P. chip enabled Visa Debit Cards, it adds an added security level that matches world class standards,” said Mr Fleming.

The bank said for merchants and financial institutions, the switch to E.M.V. means adding new in-store technology, internal processing systems, and complying with new liability rules. For consumers, it means learning a new payment process.

The chip-enabled cards are now available for B.S.P. Visa Debit Card users. All B.S.P. Visa Debit Card holders are asked to pick up their new replacement cards from the BSP main office in Apia. For more information, call the B.S.P. Customer Service Centre on 66100 or email: [email protected]  

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