Australia Agrees Move from Signatures to PINs

Australia’s payments industry will undergo a step change from July 2014 when it moves away from the signature as the guarantor of authenticity, towards personal identification numbers (PINs), or even nothing on small-value transactions.

Authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) means that the payments industry can collude on setting rules for PINs and phase out the era of signing for a transaction.

The phase-out will start next summer and take a few months. A statement by MasterCard after the ACCC note said “the ACCC is proposing to allow Visa and MasterCard, together with American Express and participating financial institutions, to co-ordinate in relation to the removal of signatures as a method of verification for most credit card transactions that are completed in person”.

MasterCard’s country manager, Andrew Cartwright, said the use of a PIN “saves time at the terminal, it’s also a wise choice to help safeguard against fraud due to lost or stolen cards, as the chances of someone correctly guessing your PIN, which can be from four to six digits long, are very small”.

Cartwright added that the UK market moved to PIN only in 2006, a move driven by a high incidence of fraud in the UK. While Australia’s fraud levels remain relatively low, the reality is payments fraud is a global business and migrates to markets with the weakest security.

The project to move to PIN only – or PIN@POS (point of sale) as it is known – is being managed by payments veteran Lance Blockley of RFi Consulting. A new website, PINwise, has been launched at www.pinwise.com.au.

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