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UAE banks urged to adopt EMV cards

Region’s banks have less than 12 months to meet EMV compliance deadline.

Banks in the UAE and across the wider GCC region have been urged to start adopting the technology now that will enable them to meet EMV chip technology standards for smart cards.

EMV, a standard created by Europay, Mastercard and Visa, aims to reduce global card fraud by introducing smart chip-based technology across a range of debit and credit card types throughout the banking world.

The deadline for compliance in Europe was January 2005, however banks in the GCC have until January 2006 to get their act together on the smart cards.

Europay, Visa and Mastercard are keen to tighten global card fraud and are shifting liability for fraud cases onto the card issuers, hence the deadline. However, Mastercard representative V. S. Chandrasekhar, said “It’s not really a deadline as such, but more of a liability shift date. What happens in January 2006 is that the non-chip compliant party becomes liable for any problem transactions. Currently the liability sits with the issuer in most cases."

So, with that deadline in mind, delegates from the region’s banks were given details of two case studies, at a seminar in Dubai - including one from Mashreqbank - aimed at demonstrating how EMV technology was being implemented, and how the banks stood to benefit from the system.

Unfortunately, Mashreqbank was reluctant to meet the press to discuss details of its EMV implementation. However, Tertius Steyl, systems development manager of Capitec Bank, South Africa, told ITP of his bank’s implementation of a pre-authorised EMV debit card: “There are easier things in the world to do than rolling out EMV. We missed our deadline by a month, but we finished within budget. It took us 18 months from start to finish.”

However, he added that despite the delay, it was still worth doing and that the bank was looking forward to watching the system develop. This is mainly due to the fact that EMV cards are likely to vastly reduce card fraud in future and therefore will mean less cost burden on the bank.

The Capitec system was provided by Mosaic Software, a world-leading provider of EFT (electronic funds transfer) solutions. Mosaic’s product vendor partner in the Gulf region is STS, which confirmed it was discussing the systems with other bank in the region.

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