Only A Few Banks Are Making Their Credit Card Customers Memorize PINs

Image courtesy of (Mike Mozart)

One compromise that financial institutions have made in the national shift to EMV smart cards from magnetic-stripe cards is that Americans will sign for their purchases instead of entering a 4-digit PIN. Maybe banks think that we’re stupider than the rest of the world, since other countries do use PINs.

Some banks have faith in Americans, though. Not many, but some. One example is First Niagara, a regional bank in upstate New York: they took over many of HSBC’s consumer branches when HSBC decided to quit the consumer banking market.

They don’t have very many credit card customers: only about 250,000 cards, which is tiny compared to the Bank of Americas and Capital Ones of the world. However, First Niagara has faith in their customers. They’re the largest bank requiring their credit card customers to use PINs instead of signatures for transactions.

A few smaller banks are using PINs, including First Premier, a bank catering to less creditworthy consumers that has some notoriously terrible cards. Target also plans to require customers to use PINs once they get around to re-issuing EMV cards for their store cards.

Here’s the catch: customers won’t be allowed to use the same PIN on both their credit and debit cards. Will they be able to remember four extra digits? I have faith in the American people. Maybe.

Bank Bets Americans Can Remember Another PIN [Wall Street Journal]

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