State Bank of Mauritius- First Visa Member Bank in sub-Saharan Africa to Migrate from Magnetic Stripe to Chip Technology

Major milestone in launching global interoperable chip card infrastructure

Port Louis, 23 May 2005 – State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) is the first bank in sub-Saharan Africa to successfully roll out a fully operational chip card infrastructure including chip cards, terminals which accept chip cards and related bank systems. In doing so Mauritius is joining the global migration to a new generation of Visa cards containing a chip with a microcomputer.

The chip on the card is, in fact, a small computer and can encrypt and securely store confidential information. The chip is practically impossible to copy making SBM’s chip cards the most secure in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, it has the power to be programmed with spending and usage limits making it possible for the chip to authorise transactions and to remove the need for the terminal to contact the bank; this will make transactions faster, cheaper and more reliable.

Mr Chaitall Gunness, chief executive officer, SBM, said: "SBM is proud to be the first bank in sub-Saharan Africa to issue a chip card. Chip technology is a key platform for the global payment industry in the future, and this is a significant milestone for SBM in our overall migration from magnetic stripe to chip cards. In Mauritius, SBM will immediately start rolling out its chip card programme and we look forward to gradually migrating the remainder of our card portfolio to chip over the next two years."

"Much of the world has made significant progress in transitioning their Visa cards, merchant equipment and payment card systems over to this advanced technology," said Rob Clark, senior vice-president and general manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Visa CEMEA. "We congratulate SBM in taking the lead in migrating from magnetic stripe to chip technology and are pleased that Mauritius will soon begin to enjoy the substantial benefits that Visa chip cards will bring to the payment card market."

In addition to rolling out cards, SBM’s retail clients are being equipped with terminals which accept cards. One significant change for SBM’s Visa chip cardholders will be the use of a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at the point of sale rather than a signature. Furthermore the technology is based on the international industry standard, EMV, which will allow SBM’s chip cards to work abroad and for visitors to use their chip cards in chip terminals in Mauritius.

"This is certainly an exciting development for our merchants and consumers. SBM merchants using the new EMV terminals will benefit from additional chip functionality, as well as EMV’s added security and protection as chip cards are rolled out locally and globally. Moreover, being a key international leisure and business travel hub, Mauritius plays host to hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors, many of whom may be carrying EMV chip cards. By taking the first step in moving towards a globally interoperable chip card infrastructure, we hope to help enhance Mauritius’s international reputation as a safe and secure country," Mr Gunness said.

Looking forward, chip technology will enable a host of additional of applications such as loyalty, access control, rewards, and public transit passes to be added to a Visa card. ACI Smart Chip Managerâ„¢ software will help SBM issue, manage and handle the data preparation for EMV-ready smart cards which enable multiple applications to be hosted on one card. The solution will give SBM the ability to manage the lifecycle of chip cards and update application parameters including EMV risk parameters in the field. It will also support personalisation of any smart card and the post-issuance of new applications to card schemes.

Daryl Berg, sales director, Sub-Sahara Africa, ACI said, "We are pleased to continue our strong partnership with SBM and to be involved in this significant launch. ACI Smart Chip Manager integrates with ACI’s flagship BASE24® payments engine currently deployed at SBM. This enables SBM to deliver new and innovative solutions in a cost effective way. Our global pool of experts are experienced in delivering large projects in the chip card arena and will continue to provide technology and service excellence to support SBM’s EMV migration."

Globally and in the CEMEA region, Visa is working closely with the member banks to accelerate the migration from today’s magnetic stripe payment cards to EMV chip technology. Visa CEMEA’s goal is to establish a comprehensive EMV chip infrastructure in the region by 2006.

"Visa has been working closely with SBM over the last several months in providing business and technical support and consultation to ensure a smooth EMV migration process. Visa is one of the key payment industry players that first developed the globally interoperable EMV specifications and standards, and we also bring valuable best practices from migration programmes around the world," said Clark. "Chip migration is a global initiative and SBM’s achievement is a major milestone for Mauritius’s payment industry. Visa looks forward to working with the rest of the industry in Mauritius in this migration exercise," Clark said.

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