In 2014, the Kenya banking industry adopted Europay, MasterCard and Visa Card (EMV) standard payment cards. EMV is a global standard that features an embedded microprocessor chip to provide enhanced transaction security and other application capabilities. The Kenya’s banking industry migration to the EMV Compliance Standard has been a success so far especially in addressing card skimming fraud and creating a market opportunity to promote payment card usage.


In the same year, Kenya became one of the three countries in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa to transition away from magnetic stripe cards at an industry wide level, placing the country at par with other leading countries in eradicating fraud cases.

May is the month when financial institutions usher into the Card and Online Safety Awareness campaign dubbed as Be Alert (Kaa Chonjo!). This is an annual event that aims at educating the general public on the importance of safeguarding their bank account details such as pins and passwords, while transacting at ATMs, mobile banking and other online platforms. The campaign also reminds the banking public to use their cards at Point of Sale stations, including retail stores and supermarkets, to reduce reliance on cash and coins.

While making an update on adoption of EMV cards in Kenya, KBA CEO, Habil Olaka announced that usage of payment cards in Kenya has gone up tremendously over the years; though, the usage of cards to make purchase is still very low. This stems from the misconceptions about cards, and assumption that the cards can only be used at the ATMs.

“Therefore as banks continue to issue the new chip cards, we would like to recommend the banking public to pick up their cards and use them. Also, they should remain vigilant with their PIN and security information,” urged Olaka.

At the launch, KBA Director of Technical Services, Mr Fidelis Muia, made a demonstration on how the ‘Chip and PIN’ card technology works using a Point of Sale device. “It has a pad for putting in the pin and a slot for inserting the card which is similar to that of the ATM. The device is designed in a way that it is able to read details such as owner security information from the chip. This technology provides enhanced transaction security and is convenient.”

“This month we intend to run advertisements across various media channels to sensitize the public on the benefits of PIN and Chip technology and the security of transacting online such as Internet banking. We are looking at channelling our efforts in combating fraud and alerting the public on areas where information needs to be safe,” added Muia.

According to Central Bank of Kenya data, more than 13.9 million payment cards (ATM/debit cards) were in circulation by February 2015, representing a 20.9 per cent increase compared to December 2014 which stood at 13.2 million cards in circulation.  There are about 2,643 ATMs countrywide.

KBA will continue to review the system and address risks to enhance payment security. It will also continue partnering with other key stakeholders to strengthen the electronic payment network.

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