Banks prepare for the EMV mandate

In a bid to successfully participate in the global economy, banks in the Middle East are revamping their ATM infrastructures ahead of the Europay MasterCard Visa migration deadline.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  April 24, 2005

Financial institutions across the region are upgrading their banking and point of sales (POS) infrastructures to meet the Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) mandate for smart chip cards by January 2006. Having come to recognise the value of World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, these nations are striving to achieve compliance so that they can successfully participate in the global economy. The Arab Gulf Cooperation Council has set measures for compliance with the international security mandate that was introduced by the joint industry working group created by major card issuer MasterCard and VISA. The mandate aims to facilitate the introduction of chip technology in the international payment systems environment by developing collaborative specifications for integrated circuit cards (ICC) and terminals. National card scheme such as the Saudi Payment Network has also provided further incentive for regional banks to speed up the migration process, as the institutions hasten to enable online electronic funds transfer (EFT) capabilities for ATM and POS terminals. However, the Middle East’s ATM and POS networks are already proving to be ahead of their Western counterparts. “The struggle of countries around the world to roll out the technology necessary to support EMV standards makes it extremely apparent that the Middle East is driving a well developed and highly innovative payments landscape,” says Osman Mehta, general manager for Level Four Middle East. The smart cards have advanced security measures, which allow offline verification of PIN codes, the pre-setting and adjustment of authorisation parameters and the introduction of risk management procedures. The EMV compliance will bring benefits to both card issuers and users, decreasing the threat of credit card frauds. However, the benefits of the solution do not end with security, according to Mehta. “The inclusion of an EMV chip [allows] banks to develop schemes such as loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) packages, with banks opting to add value to customer services by providing rewards, which will in turn drive card usage,” he says.

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