Sun | Aug 19, 2018

New, safer Scotiabank credit card coming

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Rudolph Brown/ Photographer Jacqueline Sharp, President and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica, speaks about the bank's performance in 2014 when profits fell moderately to $10.1 billion. Frederick Williams, chief financial officer and chief administration officer, is at left, at Scotia Group's quarterly investor briefing at Scotiabank Centre, Kingston on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

New technology and better safeguards are behind Scotiabank's new credit card, which the bank began implementing over the past year.

A Europay, Mastercard & Visa (EMV) chip is at the heart of the new card and the machines that will process them. Scotiabank expects to reap significant benefits over the next two years of the roll-out period.

"That will assist greatly in terms of handling the losses that we experience from credit-card and debit-card fraud," said Executive Vice-president and Chief Financial Officer Fredrick Williams as he fielded questions at a recent Scotiabank annual performance briefing.

Jamaican banks have been reeling from the effects of credit- and debit-card losses over the years, with many measures being put in place to combat the scourge. EMV chip technology has been in use in France since 1992. Chase Bank estimates that there are more than one billion cards in use worldwide with EMV chip technology.

Scotiabank is presently deploying the technology through point of sale and other card-reading machines used by merchants.

"Right now, we are actually implementing the ... instrument itself that the merchants use. Within the next 12-18 months we will start to change the actual instrument, the card that the customers hold," Williams said.

The card is expected to be rolled out within the Caribbean region. While the bank did not give a definitive cost for the project, ScotiaBank expects to recoup its investment in three years, Williams said.

Vice-president Marketing, Public and Corporate Affairs Monique Todd confirmed that "plans are already well on their way for Scotiabank to switch over to the chip/EMV card processing system by end of 2015."

She said customers will no longer need to sign transaction receipts and verify their signature and they will reap big benefits and protection with only minor changes.

"For customers this means faster processing at checkout points, in addition to the enhanced security. Changes to how the card is used will be minor, only requiring that customers insert the card at the point of sale terminals," Todd said.

Presently, credit and debit cards store customers' information on a ferromagnetic strip on the back of the card. The verification process begins when the card is swiped using the card readers commonly deployed. This leaves cardholders vulnerable as these cards can be 'skimmed' using cardreaders that can be held inconspicuously. Once the card is skimmed, a duplicate can be made or the information otherwise used to drain the accounts of the unsuspecting customer.