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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Handelsbanken puts locks on cards

Sweden's Handelsbanken is tackling the growth in fraud committed on cards abroad by putting locks on them which customers can disable with a click of a mouse when they leave the country.


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Locks on Cards - And Not Before Time

The Handelsbanken announcement is most welcome.  It's interesting how some ideas keep being revisited.  I remember, a number of years ago, being involved in a feasibility study for a UK bank that wanted to do something similar.  In the end, the technological challenges were too great at that time (and more important things pushed it down the priority rankings) and I don't think it was done in the end, so if they've now been solved on one processing platform, hopefully the solution can be replicated elsewhere. 

I would certainly welcome a product where I can exercise greater control over where my card can be used - and when - and thus reduce the possibility of someone else helping themselves to my credit limit.  I quite agree with the comment that, whilst the issuer normally stands the loss, the experience for the cardholder is most unpleasant.

The principal issues would seem to me to revolve around how easy, safe and quickly the change in status can be made; for instance, if you forgot to change the status before going on holiday, I would hope that it can be quickly changed to enable usage once you've realised that you can't use your card and you're in a situation abroad where you need to use it - urgently (say when you're in a restaurant, need to pay the bill and you don't have your washing-up gloves with you)...  It would also be useful to set start and end dates for when the status change is valid, to ensure that foreign usage was switched off when you got back.  Hopefully all these issues have been addressed in this product enhancement.

I hope that issuers across the UK can introduce these types of measures soon, as they would be a useful tool in the fight against fraud.  I'm sure someone will correct me if that is already possible in the UK, but none of my card providers has advised me of the functionality yet.

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Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 February, 2009, 12:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Regarding Handelsbanken, some banks are making it easier for me to market the system that I invented. I have written to Handelsbanken just as I did to other banks and other companies.

This is a great validation of my years (since 2000) of work on this patented system. VISA filed for the same 'claims' but 14 months after I did. I received the patent for my application in August 2005. Worldwide PCTs have been filed based on the same priority date (Feb 2001) as the US Patent.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 February, 2009, 13:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Roger, your "In the end, the technological challenges were too great at that time (and more important things pushed it down the priority rankings)" confirms that although this system looks simple, it isn't.

It was and it is still tricky to categorize the authorization request. Is it a card-not-present or card-present? If it is a card-present, is it local or cross-border? It does not end here, other characteristics of the card transaction must be determined. 

ISO8583 was the common standard and 8583 mandatory bit elements were not quite comprehensive to properly do this 'filtering' and 'typecasting'. For example, the card-acceptor id in a 8583 is not a mandatory element.

I also smiled when you said "more important things pushed it down the priority rankings.."

You got this one right. EMV took priority.

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