via Global Payments

Safety PIN: New Czech payment terminals to randomize numbers on keypad

Take note when entering your PIN on a payment terminal in the future: the layout of numbers may not be what you’re used to

Consumers should take note when entering their PIN on newer payment terminals in the Czech Republic: a new security feature may cause some initial confusion.

Global Payments, whose payment terminals make up more than half of the total number of terminals on the European market, has developed a new feature that seeks to make theft of PIN numbers much more difficult.

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According to Global Payments, stolen PIN numbers make up the bulk of credit/debit card fraud cases, and the company handled 100,000 such cases in the past year alone.

PIN numbers are most often stolen by watchful eyes or cameras monitoring a person’s hand movements when entering the numbers on a keypad. Even if the watchers cannot see the keypad, they are often able to make out the numbers entered based on the placement of the hand or fingers.

But a new security feature coming to Global Payments terminals hopes to change that through a simple design element: the placement of numbers on the touchpad screen will be randomized for every transaction, making it impossible for thieves to obtain the PIN without also seeing the numbers on the screen.

“We want to protect people’s money and this is one of the measures that can significantly help,” Global Payments spokesperson Ondřej Holoubek said in a press release.

Customers just need to be aware of the fact that the numbers may be in different positions, and avoid entering a wrong number by habit. a common feature for all credit and debit cards blocks use of the card after three failed PIN entries.

Global Payments will monitor consumer feedback during the new feature’s initial rollout. Individual merchants also have the option of switching the randomized number placement off if not wanted.

Czech bank ČSOB, which operates about 40% of the payment terminals on the Czech market, does not currently use randomized number placement – but the bank has been testing the feature on its touchscreen ATMs without issue.

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