Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited has launched a new chip and PIN card to replace its suite of Visa Classic, Gold, Platinum and Business credit cards, which carry magnetic stripes.
The bank said the new cards aim to make electronic transactions safer and more comfortable for residents.
Managing director and chief executive officer of Republic Bank (Barbados) Ian De Souza described the improved credit card, which has already been introduced in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America, as more secure and wonderful technology.
Addressing the unveiling of the new cards at Royal Westmoreland last evening, De Souza said the card would provide the highest level of protection there was for credit card users because it is more difficult to duplicate it.
“The issue is cards with magnetic stripes are [a] major problem because they represent a huge avenue for fraud. Those magnetic stripes are very vulnerable in the sense that the information on the magnetic stripes can be copied very, very easily,” De Souza said.
“It can be copied in a flash and the information put onto a dummy card and before you know it, your card can be used in some other part of the world doing transaction that you obviously know nothing about. So that is what chip and PIN is intended to get around,” he pointed out.
Cardholders will still need a personal identification number (PIN) to allow them to control the authorization of transactions, however customers will no longer be required to swipe their card. Instead they insert the card in the machine, enter their PIN and remove the card after the transaction is approved.
Republic Bank is the first commercial bank in Barbados to introduce the new technology but De Souza did not disclose the likely costs associated with the change.
Saying that chip and PIN cards were the preferred choice of card payment globally, De Souza noted it was critical that Barbadians were brought up to speed with the technology.
“For Barbados in particular, the UK ranks high as a destination for leisure, visiting family, doing business and education. So travellers out of Barbados are therefore
being placed at a great disadvantage by not having this chip and pin technology.
“It is not purely for the benefit of people who travel abroad. With the introduction of chip and PIN we are bringing it into Barbados as well with the intention of changing out our ATMs [Automated Teller Machines] to accept the chip cards and also at the merchants’ point of sale terminals,” De Souza explained.
Republic Bank Barbados currently has close to 30,000 credit card holders.
The bank has named newly elected West Indies cricket captain Jason Holder as brand ambassador for the Visa suite
VISA’s general manager for the Caribbean Sofia Antor said the chip card migration was “advancing quickly” in the region, with a 14 per cent Visa chip card penetration “and a domestic acceptance level of eight per cent”.
VISA has partnered with Republic Bank since 1994 when they launched the first dual currency card in Barbados. (MM)