EMV Chip-And-Pin Credit Cards- A Guide For UAE Residents
Imagine 4-5 years back in Dubai, how scary it was when you handed your magnetic strip credit card to the waiter at the restaurant who would come with a counterfoil for your signature after disappearing for 5-6 minutes. Your credit card was vulnerable and your personal information could have been easily stolen. But gone are those days of magnetic stripe and signature credit cards. UAE has now moved to smart credit cards which are also called EMV credit cards or Chip-and-pin credit cards.
The introduction of chipped credit cards in UAE has fended off some of most common credit card frauds. Credit card fraud is perpetrated usually by hacking the data base of credit card processor or by stealing the authorization information from retail stores, food joints and also from users’ computers. Another rampant method used by unscrupulous fraudsters was by installing magnetic-stripe skimmers at ATM machines and on credit card reading devices. Even though people still fall prey to con artists’ ‘phishing attacks’ on the internet or over the phone, the awareness of such attacks is wide spread.
The chip plays a major role in protecting you from potential fraud.
Here are 3 things you should know about your Chip-and-Pin credit card:
#1. What is a chip card?
A chip card is a standard debit or credit card made out of plastic which comes with an embedded microchip. It also has the magnetic stripe. The chip secures the transaction by encrypting the information. It won’t be wrong if I say that chip technology is the global standard for credit and debt card payments. UAE has embraced this technology right in time.
The chip-and-pin cards are also called EMV cards. EMV stands for Europay Mastercard Visa. These are the three companies which originally created the standard for plastic money payments.
#2. Why EMV cards are called ‘smart cards’?
The integrated circuit chip (ICC) embedded in a credit or debit card is what makes them smart. They are either called chip-and-pin card or chip-and-signature card. With the former, you need to enter a 4-6 digit password once your credit card is dipped or swiped on a credit card machine to complete the transaction. But in case of the latter, you need to sign the counter foil to complete the transaction.
For example- Whenever I fill petrol at Emarat petrol station in Nahrawan, I use my HSBC Visa Platinum credit card. So every time I will have to key in my password to get the receipt and complete the transaction.
Chip-and-pin are similar to debit cards. Compared to plain magnetic-stripe cards, smart cards are much more secure.
#3. What makes EMV cards more secure?
Back in the day, when only magnetic-stripe credit cards were used, credit card skimming was wide spread. A skimming devise attached to a credit card machine or ATM could easily steal your credit card account information and your personal details. You account information include the 16-digit account number, your name, the security code, expiry information and more. This information was enough to create a ‘counterfeit card‘ or a ‘clone card‘ and this card could have been easily used to make purchases or withdraw cash without your knowledge. But most of the time, this stolen information is sold in cyber black markets which would easily find buyers.
But in case of a smart plastic card, the information and instructions for a transaction is stored in the microprocessor chip located on surface of the card. The sensitive information stored in the chip is protected by symmetric and asymmetric-key technologies. A single mathematical key is used to encrypt the data in the chip. So an unique transaction code is generated every time an EMV card is used. Even if someone manages to hack and retrieve the code of a transaction, it would a futile exercise.
Well, even though it has been established that smart credit cards are more secure than magnetic stripe credit cards, they do not totally eliminate credit card fraud. But according to sources, whichever country has transitioned to EMV technology, credit card fraud has approximately fallen by 80%. When some holes in the system are plugged, fraudsters will find new ways to swindle. So do not neglect the basic things like reading your monthly credit card statement thoroughly and verifying any charge you think is unusual or not done by you.