KAMPALA- The digital revolution today has not only simplified life but also made banking most vulnerable to cyber-attacks especially fraud.

Last year, Centenary Bank recalled all ATM cards from its customers to acquire new PIN codes following a hack which caused loss of money from people’s accounts.
Experts have, therefore, urged banks to adopt the new EMV chip and pin technology to combat fraud cases. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that originally created the standard.

Speaking during the business seminar that sought to educate banks on the possibilities of the new chip and pin cards at Kampala Serena Hotel last week, Mr Suhas Dalvi, the director banking at Compulynx, a banking software developing firm, said the new chip and pin cards secure the transactions because one needs a pin code to use the card.
“Even if your ATM debit card is lost, you don’t have to worry because the card requires a pin to function. This is not possible with the magnetic stripe cards,” he said.

The objective of the seminar for the bankers was to impart awareness about EMV and how banks can go about migrating their magnetic strip cards into chip cards.

The seminar organised by Compulynx attracted technocrats from different banking institutions in the country. The banking landscape in Uganda comprise 25 commercial banks, among other financial institutions such as credit institutions and microfinance deposit taking institutions.
Mr Denis Kibuuka Musoke, the dfcu Bank head of sales, said the chip and pin technology is one of the most secure technologies that help secure a transaction because it requires one to input a pin code before carrying out a transaction.

“The ATM cards are embedded with a chip as opposed to the magnetic stripe. The chip prevents copying of the information on the cards which is possible with the magnetic stripe cards available on the market,” he said.

Banks in Uganda have already adopted the pin and chip cards and some have recalled their old ATM cards and debit cards from customers issuing them with new chip cards. Banks especially those on the VISA card platform have already adopted the chip and pin technology.

Banks in Uganda either use infrastructure by international card schemes such as Visa and MasterCard or by InterSwitch which are connected to their home processing centres across the border.

At the end of 2013, there were 774 ATMs owned by banks. The number of point of sale devices are few and are only found in major establishments in towns. Visa and MasterCard have each provided member banks with complete infrastructure and access points to their network.

The new technology is costly and many banks have phased the stages of moving towards chip and pin. Dfcu Bank is currently testing the new technology ahead of the roll out in October.