Bill Mann reports that No-PIN debit cards will be coming to Canada this summer. You’ll be able to wave these cards in front of a reader without having to insert them or enter a PIN or sign a slip of paper. My personal take on this is that I don’t want any part of it.
I only use my debit card for accessing bank machines or to identify myself within a branch of my bank. I think of it as a bank card rather than a debit card and prefer not to give retailers access to my bank accounts. If my debit card were stolen, I certainly wouldn’t want the thief to be able to drain my bank accounts by making purchases. If I ever need to use my bank card as a debit card, I would prefer to have to enter a PIN.
I realize that others think differently on this issue and that’s fine: to each his own. However, I would want the option of having a card that cannot be used as a PINless debit card.
Some may say, “just don’t use it to buy anything,” but this doesn’t address my objection. I don’t want anyone else to be able to use my card without a PIN. If I never use it without a PIN this does nothing to prevent a thief who gets hold of my card from using it without needing to know the PIN.
Banks have plans to permit PINless transactions only if they are under $100. They also plan to occasionally require PIN entry particularly if there have been many transactions. This limits the pain somewhat, but not enough for me. A thief could easily run up thousands of dollars in charges. I have no interest in arguing with a bank over which charges are legitimate and whether I notified them quickly enough or protected my card well enough.
I understand the motivation for this “innovation”. Paying with a debit card is usually much slower than paying with cash. Retailers (and customers waiting in line) would love to speed up the payment process. The banks like it because it will increase the number of transactions people make with debit cards. Faster payments will make it more practical to use debit cards for smaller payments.
I’m just not interested in getting on this train. I don’t buy things very often and I don’t mind punching in my PIN or signing for purchases. For many people, bank statements are a blur of numbers (mostly debit purchases) to be ignored except possibly for the current account balance. However, I still check every entry on my account statements against my records and I do find errors from time to time.