Central bank pushes chip-based cash cards

Central bank pushes chip-based cash cards

Magnetic stripes face Jan 16 cancellation

A bank customer uses a magnetic-stripe card at an ATM. Such cards will become obsolete in Thailand on Jan 16, 2020. (AP photo)
A bank customer uses a magnetic-stripe card at an ATM. Such cards will become obsolete in Thailand on Jan 16, 2020. (AP photo)

The Bank of Thailand has urged holders of 20 million magnetic-stripe ATM and debit cards to change to chip-based cards by year-end to avoid being unable to use the cards after Jan 16, 2020.

Of the 20 million total cards, 26% were issued in the Northeast, 19% in the central region, 14% in the North and 12% in the South, said assistant governor Siritida Panomwan Na Ayudhya.

The central bank and the Thai Bankers' Association (TBA) have encouraged holders of magnetic-stripe ATM and debit cards to migrate to chip-based cards for two years, citing security, and 47 million cards have been replaced.

The TBA earlier sought the Bank of Thailand's approval to postpone cancellation of magnetic-stripe cards to early 2020, arguing that compliance by year-end could disrupt magnetic-stripe cardholders because transaction volume peaks during that period.

"The central bank requires banks to update the progress of their replacement of magnetic-stripe cards every month until the end of the year," Ms Siritida said. "However, we expect some magnetic-stripe cards, especially inactive ones, will not be changed by year-end."

From Jan 16, 2020, magnetic-stripe cards will be blocked from use at ATMs and card reader devices.

She said 6 million of the 20 million magnetic-stripe cards are classified as inactive, meaning they are used less than once a month on average.

Holders of inactive cards mostly live in remote areas and find it inconvenient to change cards, so banks should use specific campaigns to send a message to this customer group, said Ms Siritida.

Magnetic-stripe cardholders can change to chip-based cards at all banks' branches with no fee until the end of the year. Documents required for replacement are the magnetic-stripe card, an ID card and a passbook.

There were 67 million magnetic-stripe cards in May 2016, declining to 20 million now, while the number of chip-embedded cards rose from 5 million to 52 million during the same period.

There are 67,000 ATMs nationwide, all of them chip-compliant.

Despite a sharp rise in digital banking transactions, customers continue to use cards and transaction volume via all plastic cards is growing, Ms Siritida said.

Of overall cards, 64 million are debit cards, 23 million are credit cards and 16 million are ATM cards.

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