Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Singapore takes a joined up approach to ATM Security

In 2011 there seemed to be quite a consensus among industry pundits that, while EMV (Chip and PIN) is indeed the way forward for cards and terminals, as long as EMV cards retain magnetic stripes, the cards will still be at risk from skimming.  In Europe we have seen the introduction of chip-only debit cards, and of regional card blocking, or geo-blocking, of debit cards by some European card issuers - and there is speculation that many more are following.

Last week I saw an annoucement from the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) stating that:
  • All ATM and ATM-linked debit cards will be EMV cards by 2014.
  • By June of this year, and to counter a recent spate of skimming incidents, all ABS members will start sending out SMS text alerts to customers when their cards are used for ATM withdrawals at home or abroad
  • And also by June of this year all Singaporean banks will block ATM and ATM-linked debit cards from being used overseas, unless individual customers request otherwise.
Now that is a joined-up approach to card security!  As the new Singaporean EMV cards are rolled out, they will still be vulnerable to skimming attacks, but the fraudsters will find it very difficult to use the counterfeits due to enhanced fraud detection (SMS alerts) and fraud prevention (geo-blocking) measures.   This will make life difficult for fraudsters in that market and no doubt incidences of other forms of ATM related crime will appear.  Based on the European experience these could well be cash trapping, and physical attacks against ATMs or against those conducting cash replenishment operations.

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