‘Banks should invest in EMV-compliant POS machines’

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Minister Patrick Chinamasa

Tawanda Musarurwa

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s financial services sector must invest in Visa (EMV)-compliant Point-of-Sale machines as a strategy to curb the increase in fraud involving card cloning, an expert has said.

Over the last few years, the country has seen an upsurge of electronic payments methods to an extent that such payments now account for around 90 percent of all transactions, according to figures given by Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently.

But there has been a recent months financial services players have indicated an increase in cases of fraud through card cloning. Credit card cloning is a theft tactic that allows hackers to create a fake credit card by stealing the information off an individual’s actual card, that is, a person’s credit card information is placed onto another card-like object and used just like a credit card.

But the downside of the increased use of electronic payments methods, especially credit cards, has been the increase in fraud as a result of credit card cloning.

And over the last couple of weeks, financial sector players namely CBZ Holdings, Steward Bank and ZimSwitch have issued notices warning its customers about the increased risk of transactions involving credit card cloning.

Economist (financial services) Kingston Kanyile says for a long-term resolution to the problem, the local financial services sector needs to invest in a broader revamp of its infrastructure.

“Ideally banks should move on to the newer and safer EMV chip cards, but that also requires that the banks also upgrade and/or replace the existing debit and credit infrastructure, especially the POS machines so that they are EMV-compliant,” he said.

Lagging behind

The local financial services sector has been a Johnny-come-lately to the adoption of EMV compliant payment solutions. And the continued use of magnetic-stripe care has put the public at higher risk of fraud.

“Because the magnetic-stripe cards are magnetised, when one swipes, the payment processor reads their magnetic fields and matches them to your bank account information. The problem with this is that the data is static, which means it can be easily accessed, compared to the EMV chip cards, whose data changes constantly and therefore difficult to extract. Local banks should stop contemplating about the cost of introducing Chip Cards and prioritize their customer’s safety,” explained Kangile.

Awareness is critical

He added that although it might take a long time for local banks to replace their infrastructure such as POS machines, they should put effort now in raising awareness of the issue of card cloning-based fraud to its clients.

“What is important is awareness, and that way financial services sector clients can know how to keep themselves safe,” he said.

Payments technology company, Zimswitch Technologies (Pvt) Ltd has urged cardholders to increasingly monitor transactions happening on their accounts.

“Register for SMS alerts with your bank and pay close attention to them. Advice if there are any discrepancies so that the card can be blocked as soon as possible.”

“Your bank will never call you to ask for your OTP, Security Code or PIN Number!!! Do not give such private information to anyone at all costs.

“If it happens, call your bank to report the matter,” said ZimSwitch.

Steward Bank recently announced that it had partnered with an international fraud monitoring firm to assist with combating card cloning crimes in its systems.

Steward Bank has noticed with concern, the increased risk of fraudulent transactions involving card cloning countrywide….the bank recently partnered with NetGuardian (Fraud Monitoring experts for banks worldwide) to implement a world class fraud monitoring system across all our channels to increase security on all our customer transactions and reduce the risk of fraud.

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