After plenty of celebrations and parties, the new year has finally started. However, it brings with it bad news for a large number of ATM, credit and debit card users across Pakistan.
Starting today, the magnetic strip cards will not work, as per the SBP notification, which directed all banks to shift to Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) compliant cards or Chip-based cards before the start of the new year.
Collecting the new cards and activating them has been quite a hassle for customers who have had to endure poor customer services. A lot of people have reported having waited for hours before they could connect with the concerned customer service representatives. Others were told to hold on-call, thanks to a massive backlog of cards in backend systems.
Even those looking for answers to their general queries are being made to wait days to get their issues addressed.
The SBP is yet to extend the deadline, which would mean longer queues at bank branches for withdrawing money and more delays while trying to activate cards. However, SBP is not to blame here, considering the watchdog had issued the circular in November 2018, directing all banks to make the switch by 30th June 2019. They were notified even before that. The deadline was later extended to 31st December 2019.
The central bank had also issued similar ‘Regulations for Payment Card Security’ in 2016, directing the banks to issue EMV compliant cards from 30th June 2018 and implement PIN and Chip infrastructure by 31st December 2018, however, it wasn’t achieved.
HBL hacking incident, which caused losses worth Rs 10.2 million, later pressurized the SBP to clamp down on such incidents, which is why it reiterated its resolve to switch to PIN and Chip cards.