Personalising your cards

Payments guru Dave Birch recently commented on his frustrations at receiving new credit cards that still have magnetic stripes, embossed numbers and names on them – all throwbacks to old technology. These features are still present to keep compatibility with non Chip and PIN use (e.g. USA) and manual ‘zip zap’ transactions. As Dave correctly points out, it was thanks to these features his last card was compromised and its thanks to these his next will be compromised!

Whilst the banks seem to be concerned about handing out cards to customers that aren’t compatible with every point of sale on Earth, they don’t seem to be taking the same care to make it harder for cards to be compromised. If the banks are not willing to remove these features from all cards (features that are redundant for the majority of customers) then they could at least allow customers to make the choice themselves.

I should be able to log on to my bank’s website, select my card and choose the features it supports:

– So if I don’t want to use it outside the UK, I can have a card without a mag stripe and accept that if Chip and PIN fails for some reason I won’t be able to use the card but the card is much safer.

– If I have a card I don’t want to use online I can request that all ‘card not present’ transactions are declined (and it doesn’t have a CV2 number).

– I only want my debit card card to work in ATMs and be declined if it’s used in a shop.

Maybe the ability to have certain types of transactions declined could be switched on and off at the customer’s convenience?

As well as being good fraud control, this is all about product personalisation – being able to build the product that suits me. It’s time that the banks embraced this concept across a whole range of products.

You can follow Jonathan Jensen on Twitter @sevendotzero

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About Jonathan Jensen 26 Articles
Jonathan is a payments product specialist, passionate about simplifying consumer payments. During his fifteen years working in payments Jonathan has focused on digital money, telco billing and consumer payment services. As Head of Core Products at Ukash Jonathan has responsibility for developing new consumer payment products and previously he spent 10 years at BT in a number of payments and billing roles.


  1. This is a great idea.

    So far banks seem to be content to use their banking apps (mobile or online) to simply replicate what is already done in the branch or on a call but they are a great opportunity to provide this personalisation at low cost.

    Whether the average consumer will feel able to cope with such security choices is another matter though.

  2. It’s important to separate out card usage by consumers from card acceptance by merchants. I agree that merchants should still be able to accept other card types to deal with overseas visitors. However if merchants experience more fraud via certain card types they might wish to not accept them. Whilst this is contrary to the way the card schemes operate, sometimes ‘lowest common denominator’ isn’t the best option!

    Thanks for the feedback Alex.


  3. Jonathan, nice article, thank you. I think this backs up your ideas around getting banks and customers more in line with each other – for instance the ‘MVNO’ idea.

    That said, this from Mobile Payments Today, let’s us think about this the other way round. Going from magnetic strip or chip and pin to the more ‘modern’ EMV etc could cause more and more problems for people coming TO Europe…


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