Chip enabled debit card change for country by end of 2018

Bank customers and retailers across The Bahamas have until the end of 2018 to become fully acclimated with an all-chip card system, according to President of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Gowon Bowe.

“By the end of this year, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, which are all known cards, will have now the chip technology,” Bowe explained.

“The EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) technology, which will require the chip, is intended to provide a greater level of security most importantly because it comes along with the PIN.”

According to Bowe, the chipping strategy has been in place for a while but will finally take effect following a similar mandate across the United States (U.S.). That deadline is set for December 2018.

Bowe said that once the U.S. changes its debit card system, The Bahamas will have no choice but to fall in line, considering its bank’s consumers spend heavily in America.

“Europe has been on the chip technology for quite a long time now,” he said.

Bowe explained that The Bahamas is behind on technology, as Europe has been using the EMV chip card system since 1994, to combat high rates of fraud and counterfeiting.

In October 2015, the U.S. implemented a ‘liability shift’, holding retailers responsible for their own fraud and bank theft, if they did not have the system in place to support any chip card payments.

Consumers however, complained that the chip system was confusing, as the appropriate technology was not in place or required in most retail companies.

“The United States, as a country, was not willing to enforce it immediately. Now they will be enforcing the change as a mandate,” he said.

According to Bowe, purchasing the plastic required to make the new debit cards is the only price banks will have to pay to prepare for the end of the year change. He said the change will primarily be focused on customers and vendors, as it relates to convenience.

“It’s a fairly robust system in terms of the multitude of players. The move with this new technology is around convenience, making sure the terminals are around to do so,” he said.

“I wouldn’t call any bank saying it’s a burdensome cost, because it’s really the testing, the proper security that has to be embedded within the chip. These are a part of the card business. The magnetic strip stores your name, account number, the card expiration date and the security code from the back of the card.”