Europe to Eye Mag-Stripe Ban
Cardline Global | Friday, June 26, 2009
European banks may consider banning the use of magnetic stripe credit and debit cards, according to Gerard Hartsink, the chairman of the European Payments Council.
Hartsink, who is also a senior executive vice president at ABN Amro in Holland, said that European financial companies will have largely completed the transition to the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specification by 2011, and the council, which is driving the transition to the Single Euro Payments Area, could then advise its members to stop accepting magnetic stripe cards, which are considered less secure than those that use EMV.
“My feeling is, although it has not yet been decided, the [council] will take a decision in 2011, maybe 2010, to only use chip cards,” he said in comments during a presentation this week at the Contactless Cards and Payments conference in London.
The council has no enforcement power, but if banks in Europe went along with such a decision, it could leave U.S. cardholders in the lurch when they traveled to Europe and tried to use cards for purchases or ATM withdrawals.
“If [Americans] visit Europe, it’s not such a problem; their institution could issue an EMV card,” Hartsink said.
Payments council members will probably debate the issue in 2010 or 2011, he said.
Hartsink is not the only person suggesting a ban on magnetic stripe cards, according to Dave Birch, a director at the U.K. research company Consult Hyperion. In a recent blog post, he cited comments from a financial regulator in Singapore pressing for a “concerted, global effort to phase out magnetic stripe technology entirely.”