O2 Travel Alerts takes the hassle out of overseas travel for UK card holders

O2 Travel Alerts takes the hassle out of overseas travel for UK card holders

Mobile operator O2 has launched Travel Alerts, a new automated service trialed with UK card issuer MBNA, to overcome the tiresome requirement for consumers to alert their bank and unblock cards every time they travel abroad.

To prevent payment card fraud or decline overseas, currently, people have to take time to contact their banks before they go away, filling out forms or spending time on the phone to a call centre.

With overseas card fraud standing at £150 million and accounting for a third of total UK and debit card losses, bank security systems are primed to decline unusual transactions from overseas locations without prior warning.

Rather than notifying a bank about overseas travel plans, consumers can now opt into Travel Alerts, which notifies card issuers when O2 detects mobile roaming in a different country. The simple premise ties in overseas transactions with the location of the consumer handset, providing a green-light to bank fraud systems.

The system has already been trialed with thousands of MBNA customers, with impressive results says Phil Weston, head of mobile and digital communications at the UK card issuer.

"We’re delighted with the results from the Travel Alerts trial we’re running with O2," he says. “By using their mobile phone to update us in real time, customers no longer have to contact us each time they travel, and they’re less likely to be inconvenienced when using their card abroad. We look forward to rolling Travel Alerts out to all customers in the near future.”

O2 is currently hawking the system to other banks in the UK.

Glyn Povah, head of O2 global product development, says: “ Travel Alerts completely reinvents the process of liaising with your bank to update them on travel plans. We’re really looking forward to Travel Alerts being available to everyone."

Comments: (6)

Andy Hunter
Andy Hunter - Perficiam Ltd - London 20 January, 2016, 11:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This is an excellent idea from O2 which I hope others will emulate. Notifying travel plans to card issuers is a tiresome task, particularly as advice systems are often poorly built - for example NatWest debit cardholders can't be in two countries on the same day. I wonder also if issuers may have their guard too high. If it's card present with PIN authorisation for a £100 transaction at a restaurant in Italy what's the chance it's fraud? 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 January, 2016, 12:01Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sounds sensible on the face of it, but I've neber had a problem using my card abroad (chip and pin verified) even if I don't notify my card issuer first so I'm less clear as to whether this is a solution looking for a problem. As Andy say's if it's card present with PIN auth for a €100 transaction in Italy, as a consumer I'd be pretty peeved if my card issuer returned a decline.

Does it also mean that O2 customers would need to register all their cards with O2 for it to work? Not happy with that! 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 January, 2016, 12:512 likes 2 likes

Are you kidding me?! Using a MOBILE OPERATOR to alert my BANK?!.. What if I am not with O2? Or my bank isn't? (Good luck with Barclays letting that happen - just see where they are with Apple Pay).

I said this before: the $1m idea is dead easy - a big (HUGE) juicy simple proverbial "switch" in my e-banking app. Flip that "switch" to... er, switch the card ON/OFF. Instantly. Anywhere in the world. All that switch does is changes the "flag" of a given card in the back office. Simples.

Apple & Google, I know you like my ideas :) So, here another one for you. Universal switch for all card in my Apple/Google Pay wallet.

Simon Pearce
Simon Pearce - Vipera - London 20 January, 2016, 16:581 like 1 like Alexander your quite right, all that's needed is a big on/off switch, but why just have it for travelling? Why not for online transactions or types of purchases you don't like ( or want your kids to make!), why not control where and how your card is used by switching it on and off from your phone? Well that's exactly what we can do! Already live for Deutsche Bank in Germany and coming to a card near you soon. Card Control by Vipera does all of those things plus helps you track your spending ( see video http://goo.gl/C18GTF ) It's not hard to do, we just need to ask our bank to provide it.
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 January, 2016, 17:04Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Simon, glad to hear about your product. We had a somewhat similar list of functions when we looked at developing something similar. You can guess why we didn't do it after all. I am still gobsmacked the big banks don't offer those basic, yet important and useful, functions.
Simon Pearce
Simon Pearce - Vipera - London 20 January, 2016, 17:241 like 1 like

Alexander, I agree its puzzling they are taking so long, particularly when you consider the knock on benefits in terms of fraud prevention. We are finding that many German customers like to switch the card off completely and then just switch it on when they want to use it. Easy to do because its all real-time and brings peace of mind because even if you lose the card, you know it wont work unless you switch it on.  I think this year will see more banks roll this out.