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Come March, your debit, credit cards set for a sea change

HYDERABAD:  From March 16 this year, your domestic and international debit and credit card will undergo some crucial changes.

In its attempt to make cards more secure, the Reserve Bank of India last Monday issued directions to banks that will change the way we use our debit and credit cards. From March 16, all new and old cards will work only within the country.

Even for those holding international debit and credit cards, their usage will be activated only after customers send a formal request to their bankers. Banks will allow only domestic card transactions at ATMs and Point-of-Sale terminals in India at the time of issuance or re-issuance of cards.

Be it for international transactions, online and contactless transactions (via near-field communication technology), customers have to send separate requests to the bank indicating your willingness to opt for the services.

For ease of use, users will have round-the-clock access to activate or deactivate the changes including setting transaction limits via mobile apps, internet banking, ATMs or IVR (interactive voice response). Banks will have the flexibility to disable international, online or contactless transactions for existing users based on their credit risk profile.

Those customers who haven’t used their cards to transact online or during international travel or have never paid contactless, such services will be deactivated.

Interestingly, users can even switch off and switch on cards based on your will and need. For instance, you can block and unblock your card during and after ATM withdrawals.

Such a move effectively curbs misuse when cards are lost or stolen. Cardholders can also set daily transaction limits and as per the central bank’s directions; banks are obliged to provide this facility on mobile banking, internet banking, ATMs and others.

For existing cardholders, banks are flexible to decide if they want to deactivate current cards and reissue them based on risk perception or simply deactivate options like international usage and others, which users can anyway activate with a simple instruction whenever in need.

However, these directions aren’t applicable to pre-paid gift cards and cards used at mass transit systems.