Standard Chartered Zimbabwe phases out debit cards that use magnetic strip

Standard Chartered Zimbabwe is phasing out the use of magnetic strip in debit cards. From the 15th of May onwards, these cards will no longer work. Customers of the bank have been asked to get the newer chip and PIN cards which are more secure. 

Cards with chips are already widely accepted globally. In Zimbabwe a number of banks have been issuing the chip-embedded cards with some issuing cards with both a chip and a magnetic strip to ensure the cards work on POS machines that still accept magnetic strip type cards only. 

Said the Stanchart announcement:


Please be advised that due to a card upgrade, with effect from the 15th of May 2017, all magnetic strip debit cards will be phased out and will therefore no longer be able to transact on the ATM, Internet and Point of Sale (POS). Kindly collect and activate your new chip and PIN card before the 15th of May to avoid being inconvenienced.

Please ignore this message if you have already collected your new card.

Some banks in Zimbabwe are said to have suffered losses from fraudulent activities linked to the use of the old magnetic strip in debit cards. Fraudsters use skimmers (card readers that grab the data off the card’s magnetic stripe attached to a POS device or ATM) to harvest data – and eventually money – from people that swipes their cards. Such incidents are however seldom reported as this would likely cause further problems.

The chip and PIN card is more secure because it creates a unique code for each transaction when used, basically making it harder to steal the customer’s personal information. In addition, these cards are inserted into a slot, instead of swiping and the transaction is authenticated with a four-digit PIN.

The use of magnetic strip cards is however still common at some of Zimbabwe’s largest banks.


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3 thoughts on “Standard Chartered Zimbabwe phases out debit cards that use magnetic strip

  1. Two things to note about this:
    1) SC issued cards with both magnetic strip and chips. What it means is that the statement is somewhat false. I think what they meant to say was that cards without the chips will no longer work and for cards with both the magnetic strip and chip, the magnetic strip side will stop working. Both sides are still working for the new cards as far as I can tell i.e. you can use either side when conducting a transaction.
    2) When performing online transactions the new card requires an OTP to be entered as a means of authenticating each and every transaction.

  2. PIN security is merely a deterrent. Most FI’s use a static working key (simplest implementation), making it easier for hackers to reverse engineer the algo used to create the PIN. The schemes used in the algo are well documented mostly PIN Block format (e.g. ANSI X9.8) and Encryption key size (e.g. 3DES). The effort required to crack the PIN generation is designed to be not worth the benefit (time and money). Using a OTP improves security, being an implementation of DUKPT. The card issuers go to great lengths of course to try and prevent fraud (a good thing) – holograms, reverse italics, indented fonts, embedded Chip etc via EMV compliance. End-users must always be wary that in the background are people who enjoy cracking such “secure systems” for a kick!

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