Banks to issue chip cards from May 16

Banks to issue chip cards from May 16

Move aims to enhance financial security

Mandatory chip-embedded card issuance for debit and ATM cards will come into effect on May 16 nationwide in a move aimed at enhancing financial security, says a senior Bank of Thailand official.

"Debit cards issued by commercial banks must be chip-embedded starting from May 16, [while] ATMs will support chip cards as well," said Nisarat Trairatvorakul, senior director of the payment systems policy department.

The main aim of the move is to boost financial security since chip-embedded cards are currently the most effective mechanism to prevent ATM skimming, she said.

As chip-integrated plastic cards are much less susceptible to skimming and other types of fraud, banks are urging customers to switch from magnetic-stripe cards even though chip-embedded cards can only be used with the ATMs of issuing banks at present.

Bangkok Bank is the only bank currently offering chip-embedded ATM and debit cards.

Mrs Nisarat said the implementation of chip-embedded cards is in accordance with the central bank's Payment Systems Committee's mandate since it has been holding several rounds of talks with the Thai Bankers' Association and commercial banks have been tasked with preparing for their roll-out for several years.

It is estimated that 80% of ATMs nationwide should be able to support chip-embedded cards by May 16, but these machines still have to support magnetic-stripe cards in order to facilitate people with magnetic-stripe cards accessing ATM services, she said.

Most ATMs across the country are expected to support chip-embedded cards by the end of this year, said Mrs Nisarat.

Certain specialised financial institutions (SFIs) are also preparing to issue chip-embedded cards, but the budget for their implementation will have to be evaluated by each SFI, she said.

SFIs cannot remain idle about implementing chip-embedded cards because the financial system has to be integrated and people want to ensure financial security when using ATM services, said Mrs Nisarat, without elaborating on the implementation deadline.

Phanporn Kongyingyong, first executive vice-president of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), said 87% of the bank's 9,863 ATMs nationwide are able to handle transactions involving chip-embedded ATM cards.

The bank has 10.3 million ATM and debit cards in total, of which some 10 million are magnetic-stripe ones.

The magnetic-stripe cards will gradually be replaced by chip-embedded ones by 2020 under an agreement between the Bank of Thailand and the banking industry.

"SCB has worked hard on the transition to chip-embedded cards and we expect the installation of the new technology will be completed according to the central bank's schedule," she said.

Meanwhile, a source at Kasikornbank said the bank would complete upgrading its facilities to serve chip-embedded cards. It plans to hold a press briefing on the upgrade early next month.

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