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Mastercard to get rid of magnetic strips on cards

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Mastercard has confirmed it will start phasing out magnetic strips on the back of credit and debit cards.

The firm said magnetic strips, which have become largely redundant due to the rise of chip and pin and contactless payments, will no longer be required on cards from 2024 and will be pulled from circulation altogether by 2033.

It said the change was being driven by changing consumer habits and the development of new, more secure technologies.

In the first three months of 2021, Mastercard said it saw one billion more contactless transactions compared to the same period in 2020, and in the April to June period, 45 per cent of all in-person checkout transactions globally were contactless.

Ajay Bhalla, president of Mastercard’s cyber & intelligence business, said: “It’s time to fully embrace these best-in-class capabilities, which ensure consumers can pay simply, swiftly and with peace of mind.

“What’s best for consumers is what’s best for everyone in the ecosystem.”

Engineer Forrest Parry first came up with the idea of combining a strip of magnetic tape to a plastic identity card for the CIA.

When he couldn’t figure out how to stick the tape to the badge, his wife suggested using her flat iron to melt the strip onto it.

The first chip card debuted in France in the 1960s, but its major flaw was different chip cards didn’t work with every terminal, which led to the development of a global EMV chip technology standard.

Today, for every transaction, the chip creates a unique transaction code, which is validated by the issuing bank to ensure that the genuine card is used.