A debit card (also known as a bank card or check card) is a plastic payment card that provides the cardholder electronic access to his or her bank account(s) at a financial institution. Some cards have a stored value with which a payment is made, while most relay a message to the cardholder's bank to withdraw funds from a payee's designated bank account. The card, where accepted, can be used instead of cash when making purchases. In some cases, the primary account number is assigned exclusively for use on the Internet and there is no physical card.
In many countries, the use of debit cards has become so widespread that their volume has overtaken or entirely replaced cheques and, in some instances, cash transactions. The development of debit cards, unlike credit cards and charge cards, has generally been country specific resulting in a number of different systems around the world, which were often incompatible. Since the mid-2000s, a number of initiatives have allowed debit cards issued in one country to be used in other countries and allowed their use for internet and phone purchases.
Unlike credit and charge cards, payments using a debit card are immediately transferred from the cardholder's designated bank account, instead of them paying the money back at a later date.
Debit cards usually also allow for instant withdrawal of cash, acting as the ATM card for withdrawing cash. Merchants may also offer cashback facilities to customers, where a customer can withdraw cash along with their purchase.
There are currently three ways that debit card transactions are processed: EFTPOS (also known as online debit or PIN debit), offline debit (also known as signature debit) and the Electronic Purse Card System. One physical card can include the functions of all three types, so that it can be used in a number of different circumstances.
Although many debit cards are of the Visa or MasterCard brand, there are many other types of debit card, each accepted only within a particular country or region, for example Switch (now: Maestro) and Solo in the United Kingdom, Interac in Canada, Carte Bleue in France, Laser in Ireland, EC electronic cash (formerly Eurocheque) in Germany, UnionPay in China, RuPay in India and EFTPOS cards in Australia and New Zealand. The need for cross-border compatibility and the advent of the euro recently led to many of these card networks (such as Switzerland's "EC direkt", Austria's "Bankomatkasse" and Switch in the United Kingdom) being re-branded with the internationally recognised Maestro logo, which is part of the MasterCard brand. Some debit cards are dual branded with the logo of the (former) national card as well as Maestro (for example, EC cards in Germany, Laser cards in Ireland, Switch and Solo in the UK, Pinpas cards in the Netherlands, Bancontact cards in Belgium, etc.). The use of a debit card system allows operators to package their product more effectively while monitoring customer spending.
Online debit cards require electronic authorization of every transaction and the debits are reflected in the user’s account immediately. The transaction may be additionally secured with the personal identification number (PIN) authentication system; some online cards require such authentication for every transaction, essentially becoming enhanced automatic teller machine (ATM) cards.
One difficulty with using online debit cards is the necessity of an electronic authorization device at the point of sale (POS) and sometimes also a separate PINpad to enter the PIN, although this is becoming commonplace for all card transactions in many countries.
Overall, the online debit card is generally viewed as superior to the offline debit card because of its more secure authentication system and live status, which alleviates problems with processing lag on transactions that may only issue online debit cards. Some on-line debit systems are using the normal authentication processes of Internet banking to provide real-time on-line debit transactions. The most notable of these are Ideal and POLl.
Offline debit cards have the logos of major credit cards (for example, Visa or MasterCard) or major debit cards (for example, Maestro in the United Kingdom and other countries, but not the United States) and are used at the point of sale like a credit card (with payer's signature). This type of debit card may be subject to a daily limit, and/or a maximum limit equal to the current/checking account balance from which it draws funds. Transactions conducted with offline debit cards require 2–3 days to be reflected on users’ account balances.
In some countries and with some banks and merchant service organizations, a "credit" or offline debit transaction is without cost to the purchaser beyond the face value of the transaction, while a fee may be charged for a "debit" or online debit transaction (although it is often absorbed by the retailer). Other differences are that online debit purchasers may opt to withdraw cash in addition to the amount of the debit purchase (if the merchant supports that functionality); also, from the merchant's standpoint, the merchant pays lower fees on online debit transaction as compared to "credit" (offline)
Smart-card-based electronic purse systems (in which value is stored on the card chip, not in an externally recorded account, so that machines accepting the card need no network connectivity) are in use throughout Europe since the mid-1990s, most notably in Germany (Geldkarte), Austria (Quick Wertkarte), the Netherlands (Chipknip), Belgium (Proton), Switzerland (CASH) and France (Moneo, which is usually carried by a debit card). In Austria and Germany, all current bank cards now include electronic purses.
Prepaid debit cards, also called reloadable debit cards, appeal to a variety of users. The primary market for prepaid cards are unbanked people, that is, people who do not use banks or credit unions for their financial transactions, possibly because of poor credit ratings.
The advantages of prepaid debit cards include being safer than carrying cash, worldwide functionality due to Visa and MasterCard merchant acceptance, not having to worry about paying a credit card bill or going into debt, the opportunity for anyone over the age of 18 to apply and be accepted without regard to credit quality and the option to direct deposit paychecks and government benefits onto the card for free.
Some of the first companies to enter this market were: MiCash, RushCard and Netspend, who gained high market share as a result of being first to market. However, since 1999, there have been several new providers, such as TransCash, 247card and iKobo, that offer a number of other benefits, such as money remittance services, card-to-card transfers, and the ability to apply without a social security number.][
As of 2013, several city governments (including Oakland, California and Chicago, Illinois) are now offering prepaid debit cards, either as part of a municipal ID card (for persons such as undocumented immigrants, who are unable to obtain a state driver's license or DMV ID card) in the case of Oakland, or in conjunction with a prepaid transit pass (Chicago). These cards have been heavily criticized for their higher-than-average fees, including some (such as a flat fee added on to every purchase made with the card) that similar products offered by Green Dot and American Express do not have.
The U.S. federal government uses prepaid debit cards to make benefits payments to people who do not have bank accounts. In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department paired with Comerica Bank to offer the Direct Express Debit MasterCard prepaid debit card.
In July 2013, the Association of Government Accountants released a report on government use of prepaid cards, concluding that such programs offer a number of advantages to governments and those who receive payments on a prepaid card rather than by check. The prepaid card programs benefit payments largely for cost savings they offer and provide easier access to cash for recipients, as well as increased security. The report also advises that governments should consider replacing any remaining cheque-based payments with prepaid card programs in order to realize substantial savings for taxpayers, as well as benefits for payees.
Consumer protections vary, depending on the network used. Visa and MasterCard, for instance, prohibit minimum and maximum purchase sizes, surcharges, and arbitrary security procedures on the part of merchants. Merchants are usually charged higher transaction fees for credit transactions, since debit network transactions are less likely to be fraudulent. This may lead them to "steer" customers to debit transactions. Consumers disputing charges may find it easier to do so with a credit card, since the money will not immediately leave their control. Fraudulent charges on a debit card can also cause problems with a checking account because the money is withdrawn immediately and may thus result in an overdraft or bounced checks. In some cases debit card-issuing banks will promptly refund any disputed charges until the matter can be settled, and in some jurisdictions the consumer liability for unauthorized charges is the same for both debit and credit cards.
In some countries, like India and Sweden, the consumer protection is the same regardless of the network used. Some banks set minimum and maximum purchase sizes, mostly for online-only cards. However, this has nothing to do with the card networks, but rather with the bank's judgement of the person's age and credit records. Any fees that the customers have to pay to the bank are the same regardless of whether the transaction is conducted as a credit or as a debit transaction, so there is no advantage for the customers to choose one transaction mode over another. Shops may add surcharges to the price of the goods or services in accordance with laws allowing them to do so. Banks consider the purchases as having been made at the moment when the card was swiped, regardless of when the purchase settlement was made. Regardless of which transaction type was used, the purchase may result in an overdraft because the money is considered to have left the account at the moment of the card swiping.
Debit cards and secured credit cards are popular among college students who have not yet established a credit history. Debit cards may also be used by expatriated workers to send money home to their families holding an affiliated debit card.
To the consumer, a debit transaction is perceived as occurring in real-time; i.e. the money is withdrawn from their account immediately following the authorization request from the merchant, which in many countries, is the case when making an online debit purchase. However, when a purchase is made using the "credit" (offline debit) option, the transaction merely places an authorization hold on the customer's account; funds are not actually withdrawn until the transaction is reconciled and hard-posted to the customer's account, usually a few days later. However, the previous sentence applies to all kinds of transaction types, at least when using a card issued by a European bank. This is in contrast to a typical credit card transaction; though it can also have a lag time of a few days before the transaction is posted to the account, it can be many days to a month or more before the consumer makes repayment with actual money.
Because of this, in the case of a benign or malicious error by the merchant or bank, a debit transaction may cause more serious problems (for example, money not accessible; overdrawn account) than in the case of a credit card transaction (for example, credit not accessible; over credit limit). This is especially true in the United States, where check fraud is a crime in every state, but exceeding your credit limit is not.
Debit cards may also be used on the Internet either with or without using a PIN. Internet transactions may be conducted in either online or offline mode, although shops accepting online-only cards are rare in some countries (such as Sweden), while they are common in other countries (such as the Netherlands). For a comparison, PayPal offers the customer to use an online-only Maestro card if the customer enters a Dutch address of residence, but not if the same customer enters a Swedish address of residence.
Internet purchases can be authenticated by the consumer entering their PIN if the merchant has enabled a secure online PIN pad, in which case the transaction is conducted in debit mode. Otherwise, transactions may be conducted in either credit or debit mode (which is sometimes, but not always, indicated on the receipt), and this has nothing to do with whether the transaction was conducted on online or offline mode, since both credit and debit transactions may be conducted in both modes.
In some countries, banks tend to levy a small fee for each debit card transaction. In some countries (for example, the UK) the merchants bear all the costs and customers are not charged. There are many people who routinely use debit cards for all transactions, no matter how small. Some (small) retailers refuse to accept debit cards for small transactions, where paying the transaction fee would absorb the profit margin on the sale, making the transaction uneconomic for the retailer.
The banks in Angola issue by official regulation only one brand of debit cards: Multicaixa, which is also the brand name of the one and only network of ATMs and POS terminals.
Debit cards in Australia are called different names depending on the issuing bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia: Keycard; Westpac Banking Corporation: Handycard; National Australia Bank: FlexiCard; ANZ Bank: Access card; Bendigo Bank: Cashcard.
EFTPOS is very popular in Australia and has been operating there since the 1980s. EFTPOS-enabled cards are accepted at almost all swipe terminals able to accept credit cards, regardless of the bank that issued the card, including Maestro cards issued by foreign banks, with most businesses accepting them, with 450,000 point of sale terminals.
EFTPOS cards can also be used to deposit and withdraw cash over the counter at Australia Post outlets participating in GiroPost, just as if the transaction was conducted at a bank branch, even if the bank branch is closed. Electronic transactions in Australia are generally processed via the Telstra Argent and Optus Transact Plus network - which has recently superseded the old Transcend network in the last few years. Most early keycards were only usable for EFTPOS and at ATM or bank branches, whilst the new debit card system works in the same ways a credit card, except it will only use funds in the specified bank account. This means that, among other advantages, the new system is suitable for electronic purchases without a delay of two to four days for bank-to-bank money transfers.
Australia operates both electronic credit card transaction authorization and traditional EFTPOS debit card authorization systems, the difference between the two being that EFTPOS transactions are authorized by a personal identification number (PIN) while credit card transactions are usually authorized by the printing and signing of a receipt, however in recent years card holders have been encouraged to enter their pin for added security on credit card purchases, negating the need to sign the receipt. If the user fails to enter the correct pin three times, the consequences range from the card being locked out for a minimum 24 hour period, a phone call or trip to the branch to reactivate with a new PIN, the card being cut up by the merchant, or in the case of an ATM, being kept inside the machine, both of which require a new card to be ordered.
Generally credit card transaction costs are borne by the merchant with no fee applied to the end user while EFTPOS transactions cost the consumer an applicable withdrawal fee charged by their bank.
The introduction of Visa and MasterCard debit cards along with regulation in the settlement fees charged by the operators of both EFTPOS and credit cards by the Reserve Bank has seen a continuation in the increasing ubiquity of credit card use among Australians and a general decline in the profile of EFTPOS. However, the regulation of settlement fees also removed the ability of banks, who typically provide merchant services to retailers on behalf of Visa, MasterCard or Bankcard, from stopping those retailers charging extra fees to take payment by credit card instead of cash or EFTPOS. Though only a few operators with strong market power have done so, the passing on of fees charged for credit card transactions may result in an increased use of EFTPOS.
In Bahrain debit cards are under Benefit, the interbanking network for Bahrain. Benefit is also accepted in other countries though, mainly GCC, similar to the Saudi Payments Network and the Kuwaiti KNET.
In Brazil debit cards are called cartão de débito (singular) and are getting increasingly popular as a replacement for checks, which are still uncommonly popular in the country.
In Bulgaria debit cards are allowed in almost all stores and shops, as well as in the most of the hotels and restaurants in the bigger cities. Smaller restaurants or small shops will probably accept cash only. All Bulgarian banks can provide debit cards when you open a bank account, for maintenance costs. Usually debit cards used on ATMs owned by the same bank do not cost a thing, and used on ATMs of other banks costs low (3-10 times cheaper than using credit card). The most common cards in Bulgaria are Maestro and Visa Electron, accepted everywhere together with VISA and MasterCard.
Canada has a nation-wide EFTPOS system, called Interac Direct Payment. Since being introduced in 1994, IDP has become the most popular payment method in the country. Previously, debit cards have been in use for ABM usage since the late 1970s, with Credit Unions in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada introducing the first card-based, networked ATMs beginning in June, 1977. Debit Cards, which could be used anywhere a credit card was accepted, were first introduced in Canada by Saskatchewan Credit Unions in 1982. In the early 1990s, pilot projects were conducted among Canada's six largest banks to gauge security, accuracy and feasibility of the Interac system. Slowly in the later half of the 1990s, it was estimated that approximately 50% of retailers offered Interac as a source of payment. Retailers, many small transaction retailers like coffee shops, resisted offering IDP to promote faster service. In 2009, 99% of retailers offer IDP as an alternative payment form.
In Canada, the debit card is sometimes referred to as a "bank card". It is a client card issued by a bank that provides access to funds and other bank account transactions, such as transferring funds, checking balances, paying bills, etc., as well as point of purchase transactions connected on the Interac network. Since its national launch in 1994, Interac Direct Payment has become so widespread that, as of 2001, more transactions in Canada were completed using debit cards than cash. This popularity may be partially attributable to two main factors: the convenience of not having to carry cash, and the availability of automated bank machines (ABMs) and Direct Payment merchants on the network.
Debit cards may be considered similar to stored-value cards in that they represent a finite amount of money owed by the card issuer to the holder. They are different in that stored-value cards are generally anonymous and are only usable at the issuer, while debit cards are generally associated with an individual's bank account and can be used anywhere on the Interac network.
In Canada, the bank cards can be used at POS and ABMs. Interac Online has also been introduced in recent years allowing clients of most major Canadian banks to use their debit cards for online payment with certain merchants as well. Certain financial institutions also allow their clients to use their debit cards in the United States on the NYCE network.
In the last couple of months, VISA has introduced itself to Canadian bank card holders. INTERAC is still used at merchants (when at the merchants store), but on the Internet AND outside of Canada, VISA INTERACT Debit Cards have largely been treated like VISA cards are elsewhere.
Consumers in Canada are protected under a voluntary code* entered into by all providers of debit card services, The Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services (sometimes called the "Debit Card Code"). Adherence to the Code is overseen by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), which investigates consumer complaints.
According to the FCAC website, revisions to the Code that came into effect in 2005 put the onus on the financial institution to prove that a consumer was responsible for a disputed transaction, and also place a limit on the number of days that an account can be frozen during the financial institution's investigation of a transaction.
Chile has an EFTPOS system called Redcompra (Purchase Network) which is currently used in at least 23,000 establishments throughout the country. Goods may be purchased using this system at most supermarkets, retail stores, pubs and restaurants in major urban centers.
Colombia has a system called Redeban-Multicolor and Credibanco Visa which are currently used in at least 23,000 establishments throughout the country. Goods may be purchased using this system at most supermarkets, retail stores, pubs and restaurants in major urban centers. Colombian debit cards are Maestro (pin), Visa Electron (pin), Visa Debit (as Credit) and MasterCard-Debit (as Credit).
The Danish debit card Dankort was introduced on 1 September 1983, and despite the initial transactions being paper-based, the Dankort quickly won widespread acceptance in Denmark. By 1985 the first EFTPOS terminals were introduced, and 1985 was also the year when the number of Dankort transactions first exceeded 1 million. It is not uncommon that Dankort is the only card accepted at smaller stores, thus making it harder for tourists to travel without cash. It is also possible to get a Visa Electron debit card and MasterCard.
Miscellaneous facts & numbers
Most daily customer transactions are carried out with debit cards or online giro/electronic bill payment, although credit cards and cash are accepted. Checks are no longer used. Prior to European standardization, Finland had a national standard (pankkikortti). Physically, a pankkikortti was the same as an international credit card, and the same card imprinters and slips were used for pankkikortti and credit cards, but the cards were not accepted abroad. This has now been replaced by the Visa and MasterCard debit card systems, and Finnish cards can be used elsewhere in the European Union and the world.
An electronic purse system, with a chipped card, was introduced, but did not gain much traction.
Signing a payment offline entails incurring debt, thus offline payment is not available to minors. However, online transactions are permitted, and since almost all stores have electronic terminals, today also minors can use debit cards. Previously, only cash withdrawal from ATMs was available to minors (automaattikortti or Visa).
Carte Bancaire (CB), the national payment scheme, in 2008, had 57.5 million cards carrying its logo and 7,76 billion transactions (POS and ATM) were processed through the e-rsb network (135 transactions per card mostly debit or deferred debit). Most CB cards are debit cards, either debit or deferred debit. Less than 10% of CB cards were credit cards.
Banks in France charge annual fees for debit cards (despite card payments being very cost efficient for the banks), yet they do not charge personal customers for checkbooks or processing checks (despite checks being very costly for the banks). This imbalance dates from the unilateral introduction in France of Chip and PIN debit cards in the early 1990s, when the cost of this technology was much higher than it is now. Credit cards of the type found in the United Kingdom and United States are unusual in France and the closest equivalent is the deferred debit card, which operates like a normal debit card, except that all purchase transactions are postponed until the end of the month, thereby giving the customer between 1 and 31 days of interest-free credit.
The annual fee for a deferred debit card is around €10 more than for one with immediate debit. Most France debit cards are branded with the Carte Bleue logo, which assures acceptance throughout France. Most card holders choose to pay around €5 more in their annual fee to additionally have a Visa or a MasterCard logo on their Carte Bleue, so that the card is accepted internationally. A Carte Bleue without a Visa or a MasterCard logo is often known as a "Carte Bleue Nationale" and a Carte Bleue with a Visa or a MasterCard logo is known as a "Carte Bleue Internationale", or more frequently, simply called a "Visa" or "MasterCard".
Many smaller merchants in France refuse to accept debit cards for transactions under a certain amount because of the minimum fee charged by merchants' banks per transaction (this minimum amount varies from €5 to €15.25, or in some rare cases even more). But more and more merchants accept debit cards for small amounts, due to the massive daily use of debit card nowadays. Merchants in France do not differentiate between debit and credit cards, and so both have equal acceptance. It is legal in France to set a minimum amount to transactions, but the merchants must display it clearly.
Debit cards have enjoyed wide acceptance in Germany for years. Facilities already existed before EFTPOS became popular with the Eurocheque card, an authorization system initially developed for paper checks where, in addition to signing the actual check, customers also needed to show the card alongside the check as a security measure. Those cards could also be used at ATMs and for card-based electronic funds transfer (called Girocard) with PIN entry. These are now the only functions of such cards: the Eurocheque system (along with the brand) was abandoned in 2002 during the transition from the Deutsche Mark to the euro. As of 2005, most stores and petrol outlets have EFTPOS facilities. Processing fees are paid by the businesses, which leads to some business owners refusing debit card payments for sales totalling less than a certain amount, usually 5 or 10 euro.
To avoid the processing fees, many businesses resorted to using direct debit, which is then called electronic direct debit (German: , abbr. ELV). The point-of-sale terminal reads the bank sort code and account number from the card but instead of handling the transaction through the Girocard network it simply prints a form, which the customer signs to authorise the debit note. However, this method also avoids any verification or payment guarantee provided by the network. Further, customers can return debit notes by notifying their bank without giving a reason. This means that the beneficiary bears the risk of fraud and illiquidity. Some business mitigate the risk by consulting a proprietary blacklist or by switching to Girocard for higher transaction amounts.
Around 2000, an Electronic Purse Card was introduced, dubbed Geldkarte ("money card"). It makes use of the smart card chip on the front of the standard issue debit card. This chip can be charged with up to 200 euro, and is advertised as a means of making medium to very small payments, even down to several euros or cent payments. The key factor here is that no processing fees are deducted by banks. It did not gain the popularity its inventors had hoped for. However, this could change as this chip is now used as means of age verification at cigarette vending machines, which has been mandatory since January 2007. Furthermore, some payment discounts are being offered (e.g. a 10% reduction for public transport fares) when paying with "Geldkarte". The "Geldkarte" payment lacks all security measures, since it does not require the user to enter a PIN or sign a sales slip: the loss of a "Geldkarte" is similar to the loss of a wallet or purse - anyone who finds it can then use their find to pay for their own purchases.
A popular payment instant method widely used in Hong Kong is EPS. Bank customers can use their ATM card to make an instant EPS payment, much like a debit card. Most banks in Hong Kong provide ATM cards with EPS capability.
Only one bank at this time offers a Visa card as a debit card in Hong Kong. Hang Seng's Bank's Enjoy card is the only one. It is linked to a person's or company's savings or checking account and funds can be moved upon request or on a regularly scheduled basis to cover the charges that are incurred, whether in person or on-line. Overdraft privileges are not permitted at this time. The reason for the limited use is the virtual monopoly of the EPS Corporation which is co-owned by 21 major banks. Unfortunately, EPS is not usable on-line or overseas as a debit card (with limited exceptions, i.e. PLUS network POS transactions).
In Hungary debit cards are far more common and popular than credit cards. Many Hungarians even refer to their debit card ("betéti kártya") mistakenly using the word for credit card ("hitelkártya").
The debit card has limited popularity in India as the merchant is charged for each transaction. The debit card therefore is mostly used for ATM transactions. Most of the banks issue Visa debit cards, while some banks (like SBI and Citibank India) issue Maestro cards. The debit card transactions are routed through the Visa or MasterCard networks rather than directly via the issuing bank.
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has formally decided the name and logo of this new international payment gateway. The new name is being called RuPay.
Indonesia in addition of accepting foreign brands such as Visa, Maestro, MasterCard, and MEPS. The country also have a few nationwide domestic debit card networks, such as Debit BCA (and its Prima network's counterpart, Prima Debit) and Mandiri Debit.
Iraq's two biggest state-owned banks, Rafidain Bank and Rasheed Bank, together with the Iraqi Electronic Payment System (IEPS) have established a company called International Smart Card, which have developed a national credit card called 'Qi Card'. The card is issued since 2008. According to the company's website: 'after less than two years of the initial launch of the Qi card solution, we have hit 1.6 million cardholder with the potential to issue 2 million cards by the end of 2010, issuing about 100,000 card monthly is a testament to the huge success of the Qi card solution. Parallel to this will be the expansion into retail stores through a network of points of sales of about 30,000 units by 2015'
Israel cards system seems as a blend of features taken from different types of cards. Terminology speaking, the most common card in Israel is a deferred debit card, as in France, though the term is neither familiar nor referred to simply as "credit card". The term is not 100% compatible with the card characteristics, though; Its main feature may be a direct link to (& mostly issued by) a bank account, which it debits on a regular date once a month, but that's not all to it. This card usually enables immediate ATM cash withdrawals & balance inquiries (as debit cards do), an immediate bank account debit for all (ATM+purchases) abroad (though approved according to available credit, not withdraw-able bank account balance), installment & deferred charge interest free transactions offered by merchants (also applicable in Brazil), interest bearing installment plans/deferred charge/revolving credit which is transaction specific at the point of sale (though granted by the issuer, hence the interest), & variety of automated/upon request types of credit schemes including loans, some of which revolve or resemble the extended payment options sometimes offered by charge cards.
That would leave debit card itself not so common in Israel, though exists since 1994. This card is offered by two credit companies in Israel: One is ICC, short for "Israeli Credit Cards" ( pronounced by its Hebrew initials, "CAL"), which issues it in the form of valid only in Israel Visa Electron, mainly to the postal bank (which is not allowed, by regulation, to offer any type of credit) or to Israel Discount Bank, its main owner (where it's branded as "Discount Money Key" card). The other Card is branded "Direct" & offered by the Isracard consurtium to its affiliate banks, mainly as a card valid only in Israel, under its local & unique - though immensely popular - private label brand, "Isracard" (which is often viewed as MasterCard for local use only). Since 2006 Isracard offers next to its local debit card version "Isracard Direct" (formerly known as "Electro Cheque" till 2002) an international version - MasterCard Direct, which is rarely seen.
With those two debit card brands, obviously debit cards operates offline in Israel (meaning the transaction operates under the credit cards systems & debited officially from the cardholder account only few days later, after being processed - though reflected on the current account immediately). POS in Israel are not PIN based (only ATM) & only recently the credit companies had started issue EMV chip smart cards. That is ironic, due to the fact that almost all transactions in Israel are processed by the SHVA company, which is owned by the main banking groups & also serves as the interbank switch & ATM system. In fact, certain ATM bank cards can not withdraw cash at other banks ATM (as in the case of the First International Bank group Snifomat cards) or inquire account balance (as in the case of the postal office Visa Electron debit card).
On & all, Banks usually offers deferred debit cards almost automatically to its new costumers. Debit cards usually offered to those who can't or won't obtain credit,& are not profitable to the average cardholder - as it charges both monthly fee by the credit company & current account fee for every daily debit. Having said that, Isracard Direct is by far more common than ICC Visa Electron version of debit cards. Banks who issue mainly Visa cards will rather offer electronic use, mandate authorized transaction only, unembossed version of Visa Electron deferred debit cards (branded as "Visa Basic" or "Visa Classic") to its customers - sometimes even in the form of revolving credit card.
Debit cards are quite popular in Italy. There are both classic and prepaid cards. The main classic debit card in Italy is Bancomat/PagoBancomat: this kind of card is issued by Italian banks. Bancomat is the commercial brand for the cash withdrawal circuit, while PagoBancomat is used for POS transactions. Unlike other European countries such as UK, no Italian bank is issuing Visa/MasterCard debit cards. The main international debit circuit used by Italian banks is Maestro: for this reason almost every debit card issued in Italy has both PagoBancomat and Maestro logos, with Bancomat/PagoBancomat being used in Italy and the Maestro circuit when abroad. Sometimes, instead of using the Maestro circuit, the Bancomat/PagoBancomat debit card is issued along with V-Pay or Visa Electron logos, or sometimes with credit card functions (so you get a dual-mode card). In this last case, only the credit-card mode is allowed for abroad/Internet transactions, while the debit card mode is used only in Italy. The most popular prepaid debit card is "Postepay". It is issued by Poste italiane S.p.A., and runs on the Visa Electron circuit. It can be used on Poste Italiane's ATMs (Postamat) and on Visa's Electron-compatible bank ATMs all over the world. It has no fees when used on the Internet and in POS-based transactions. Other cards are issued by other companies, such as Vodafone CashCard, Banca Popolare di Milano's Carta Jeans and Carta Moneta Online.
In Japan people usually use their cash cards , originally intended only for use with cash machines, as debit cards. The debit functionality of these cards is usually referred to as J-Debit , and only cash cards from certain banks can be used. A cash card has the same size as a Visa/MasterCard. As identification, the user will have to enter his or her four-digit PIN when paying. J-Debit was started in Japan on March 6, 2000.
Suruga Bank began service of Japan's first Visa Debit in 2006. Rakuten Bank, formally known as Ebank, offers a Visa debit card.
Resona Bank also offers a Visa branded debit card.
In Kuwait, all banks provide a debit card to their account holders. This card is branded as KNET, which is the central switch in Kuwait. KNET card transactions are free for both customer and the merchant and therefore KNET debit cards are used for low valued transactions as well. KNET cards are mostly co-branded as Maestro or Visa Electron which makes it possible to use the same card outside Kuwait on any terminal supporting these payment schemes.
In Malaysia, there is one interbank network called the Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS) through which all the banks issue a multipurpose card called bankcard. This acts as a debit card as well as an ATM card.
In the Netherlands using EFTPOS is known as pinnen (pinning), a term derived from the use of a Personal Identification Number. PINs are also used for ATM transactions, and the term is used interchangeably by many people, although it was introduced as a marketing brand for EFTPOS. The system was launched in 1987, and in 2010 there were 258,585 terminals throughout the country, including mobile terminals used by delivery services and on markets. All banks offer a debit card suitable for EFTPOS with current accounts.
PIN transactions are usually free to the customer, but the retailer is charged per-transaction and monthly fees. Equens, an association with all major banks as its members, runs the system, and until August 2005 also charged for it. Responding to allegations of monopoly abuse, it has handed over contractual responsibilities to its member banks through who now offer competing contracts. The system is organised through a special banking association Currence set up specifically to coordinate access to payment systems in the Netherlands. Interpay, a legal predecessor of Equens, was fined €47 million in 2004, but the fine was later dropped, and a related fine for banks was lowered from €17 million to €14 million. Per-transaction fees are between 5-10 eurocents, depending on volume.
Credit card use in the Netherlands is very low, and most credit cards cannot be used with EFTPOS, or charge very high fees to the customer. Debit cards can often, though not always, be used in the entire EU for EFTPOS. Most debit cards are Maestro cards. Visa debit cards are often not accepted, for example ticket machines at railway stations accept Maestro debit cards but not Visa debit cards. However, all kinds of cards can be used in ATMs.
In 2011 spending money using debit cards rose to 83 billion euro whilst cash spending dropped to 51 billion euro and creditcard spending grew to 5 billion.
Electronic Purse Cards (called Chipknip) were introduced in 1996, but have never become very popular.
EFTPOS (electronic fund transfer at point of sale) in New Zealand is highly popular. In 2006, 70 percent of all retail transactions were made by Eftpos, with an average of 306 Eftpos transaction being made per person. At the same time, there were 125,000 Eftpos terminals in operation (one for every 30 people), and 5.1 million Eftpos cards in circulation (1.27 per capita).
The system involves the merchant swiping (or inserting) the customer's card and entering the purchase amount. Point of sale systems with integrated EFTPOS often sent the purchase total to the terminal and the customer swipes their own card. The customer then selects the account they wish to use: Current/Cheque (CHQ), Savings (SAV), or Credit Card (CRD), before entering in their PIN. After a short processing time in which the terminal contacts the EFTPOS network and the bank, the transaction is approved (or declined) and a receipt is printed. The EFTPOS system is used for credit cards as well, with a customer selecting Credit Card and entering their PIN, or for older credit cards without loaded PIN, pressing OK and signing their receipt with identification through matching signatures. Fixed EFTPOS terminals in most businesses utilise the public switched telephone network to contact the EFTPOS network, either utilising dedicated phone lines or sharing the merchant's voice line (especially in smaller businesses). The uptake of broadband internet in the 21st century has seen some terminals move to internet protocol connections.
Virtually all retail outlets have EFTPOS facilities, so much that retailers without EFTPOS have to advertise so. In addition, an increasing number of mobile operator, such as taxis, stall holders and pizza deliverers have mobile EFTPOS systems. The system is made up of two primary networks: EFTPOS NZ, which is owned by ANZ Bank New Zealand (formerly ANZ National Bank) and Paymark Limited (formerly Electronic Transaction Services Limited), which is owned by ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB Bank, Westpac and the Bank of New Zealand. The two networks are intertwined and highly sophisticated and secure, able to handle huge volumes of transactions during busy periods such as the lead-up to Christmas: on 24 December 2012, the Paymark network alone recorded an average of 132 transactions per second between 12:00 and 13:00. Network failures are rare, but when they occur they cause massive disruption, resulting in major delays and loss of income for businesses. Most businesses have to resort to manual "zip-zap" swipe machines in such case. Newer POS-based terminals have the ability to "capture" transactions in the event of a communications break-down - instead of entering a PIN, the customer signs their receipt and the transaction is approved on a matching signature, The transaction details are stored and sent for processing once the connection to the network is restored. A notable example of this occurs on the Cook Strait ferries, where in the middle of Cook Strait there is no mobile phone reception to connect to the EFTPOS network.
Depending on the user's bank, a fee may be charged for use of EFTPOS. Most youth accounts (the minimum age to obtain an Eftpos card from most banks in New Zealand is 13 years) and an increasing number of 'electronic transaction accounts' do not attract fees for electronic transactions, meaning the use of Eftpos by younger generations has become ubiquitous and subsequently cash use has become rare. Typically merchants don't pay fees for transactions, most only having to pay for the equipment rental.
One of the disadvantages of New Zealand's well-established EFTPOS system is that it is incompatible with overseas systems and non-face-to-face purchases. In response to this, many banks since 2005 have introduced international debit cards such as Maestro and Visa Debit which work online and overseas as well as on the New Zealand EFTPOS system.
In the Philippines, all three national ATM network consortia offer proprietary PIN debit. This was first offered by Express Payment System in 1987, followed by Megalink with Paylink in 1993 then BancNet with the Point-of-Sale in 1994.
Express Payment System or EPS was the pioneer provider, having launched the service in 1987 on behalf of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. The EPS service has subsequently been extended in late 2005 to include the other Expressnet members: Banco de Oro and Land Bank of the Philippines. They currently operate 10,000 terminals for their cardholders.
Megalink launched Paylink EFTPOS system in 1993. Terminal services are provided by Equitable Card Network on behalf of the consortium. Service is available in 2,000 terminals, mostly in Metro Manila.
BancNet introduced their point of sale system in 1994 as the first consortium-operated EFTPOS service in the country. The service is available in over 1,400 locations throughout the Philippines, including second and third-class municipalities. In 2005, BancNet signed a Memorandum of Agreement to serve as the local gateway for China UnionPay, the sole ATM switch in the People's Republic of China. This will allow the estimated 1.0 billion Chinese ATM cardholders to use the BancNet ATMs and the EFTPOS in all participating merchants.
Visa debit cards are issued by Union Bank of the Philippines (e-Wallet & eon), Chinatrust, Equicom Savings Bank (Key Card & Cash Card), Banco De Oro, HSBC, HSBC Savings Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia (Visa ShopNPay prepaid and debit cards)& EastWest Bank. Union Bank of the Philippines cards, EastWest Visa Debit Card, Equicom Savings Bank & Sterling Bank of Asia EMV cards which can also be used for internet purchases. Sterling Bank of Asia has released its first line of prepaid and debit Visa cards with EMV chip.
MasterCard debit cards are issued by Banco de Oro, Security Bank (Cashlink & Cash Card) & Smart Communications (Smart Money) tied up with Banco De Oro. MasterCard Electronic cards are issued by BPI (Express Cash) and Security Bank (CashLink Plus).
Originally, all Visa and MasterCard based debit cards in the Philippines are non-embossed and are marked either for "Electronic Use Only" (Visa/MasterCard) or "Valid only where MasterCard Electronic is Accepted" (MasterCard Electronic). However, EastWest Bank started to offer embossed Visa Debit Cards without the for "Electronic Use Only" mark. Paypass Debit MasterCard from other banks also have embossed labels without the for "Electronic Use Only" mark
In Poland, local debit cards, such as PolCard, have become largely substituted with international ones, such as Visa, MasterCard, or the unembossed Visa Electron or Maestro.There are also some banks that do not possess an identification system to allow customers to order debit cards online.
In Portugal, debit cards are accepted almost everywhere: ATMs, stores, and so on. The most commonly accepted are Visa and MasterCard, or the unembossed Visa Electron or Maestro. Regarding Internet payments debit cards can't be used for transfers, due to its unsafeness, so banks recommend the use of 'MBnet', a pre-registered safe system that creates a virtual card with a pre-selected credit limit. All the card system is regulated by SIBS, the institution created by Portuguese banks to manage all the regulations and communication processes proply. SIBS' shareholders are all the 27 banks operating in Portugal.
In addition to Visa, MasterCard and American Express, there are some local payment system based in general on Smart Card technology.
Nearly every transaction, regardless of brand or system, is processed as an immediate debit transaction. Non-debit transactions within these systems have spending limits that are strictly limited when compared with typical Visa or MasterCard accounts.
In Saudi Arabia, all debit card transactions are routed trough Saudi Payments Network (SPAN), the only electronic payment system in the Kingdom and all banks are required by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to issue cards fully compatible with the network. It connects all point of sale (POS) terminals throughout the country to a central payment switch which in turn re-routes the financial transactions to the card issuer, local bank, Visa, Amex or MasterCard.
As well as its use for debit cards, the network is also used for ATM and credit card transactions.
Singapore's debit service is managed by the Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), founded by Singapore’s leading banks and shareholders namely DBS, Keppel Bank, OCBC and its associates, OUB, IBS, POSB, Tat Lee Bank and UOB in 1985 as a result of a need for a centralised e-Payment operator.
However,due to the banking restructuring and mergers, the local banks became UOB, OCBC, DBS-POSB as the shareholders of NETS with Standard Chartered Bank to offer NETS to their customers. However, DBS and POSB customers can use their network atms on their own and not be shared with UOB, OCBC or SCB (StanChart). The mega failure of 5 July 2010 of POSB-DBS ATM Networks (about 97,000 machines) made the government to rethink the shared ATM system again as it affected the NETS system too.
In 2010, in line with the mandatory EMV system, Local Singapore Banks starts to reissue their Debit Visa/MasterCard branded debit cards with the EMV Chip compliant ones compared to the magnetic stripe system in place. Banks involved includes the NETS Members of POSB-DBS, UOB-OCBC-SCB along with the SharedATM alliance (NON-NETS) of HSBC, Citibank, State Bank of India, and Maybank. Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is also a SharedATM alliance member. Non branded cards of POSB and Maybank local ATM Cards are kept without a chip but has a Plus or Maestro sign so that they can use it only to draw cash locally or overseas.
Maybank Debit MasterCard are also available to use in Malaysia just as a normal ATM or Dedit MEPS card.
Singapore also uses the e-purse systems of NETS CASHCARD and the CEPAS wave system by EZ-Link and NETS.
Debit cards are allowed in a large number stores, both large and small in Spain. Many banks usually offer debit cards when you open a bank account. These cards usually do not have a start up maintenance fee, or if they do the fees are low. These cards are used more often than credit cards at ATMs because there normally isn't a fee to take out money.
In the UK debit cards (an integrated EFTPOS system) are an established part of the retail market and are widely accepted both by bricks and mortar stores and by internet stores. The term EFTPOS is not widely used by the public; debit card is the generic term used. Cards commonly in circulation include Maestro (previously Switch), Debit MasterCard, Visa Debit (previously Visa Delta) and Visa Electron. Banks do not charge customers for EFTPOS transactions in the UK, but some retailers make small charges, particularly where the transaction amount in question is small. The UK has converted all debit cards in circulation to Chip and PIN (except for Chip and Signature cards issued to people with certain disabilities), based on the EMV standard, to increase transaction security; however, PINs are not required for internet transactions.
In the United Kingdom, banks started to issue debit cards in the mid-1980s in a bid to reduce the number of cheques being used at the point of sale, which are costly for the banks to process; the first bank to do so was Barclays with the Barclays Connect card. As in most countries, fees paid by merchants in the United Kingdom to accept credit cards are a percentage of the transaction amount, which funds card holders' interest-free credit periods as well as incentive schemes such as points, airmiles or cashback. Debit cards do not usually have these characteristics, and so the fee for merchants to accept debit cards is a low fixed amount, regardless of transaction amount. For very small amounts, this means it is cheaper for a merchant to accept a credit card than a debit card. Although merchants won the right through The Credit Cards (Price Discrimination) Order 1990 to charge customers different prices according to the payment method, few merchants in the UK charge less for payment by debit card than by credit card, the most notable exceptions being budget airlines, travel agents and IKEA. Debit cards in the UK lack the advantages offered to holders of UK-issued credit cards, such as free incentives (points, airmiles, cashback etc.), interest-free credit and protection against defaulting merchants under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Almost all establishments in the United Kingdom that accept credit cards also accept debit cards (although not always Visa Electron), but a minority of merchants, for cost reasons, accept debit cards and not credit cards.
In the U.S., EFTPOS is universally referred to simply as debit. The same interbank networks that operate the ATM network also operate the POS network. Most interbank networks, such as Pulse, NYCE, MAC, Tyme, SHAZAM, STAR, and so on, are regional and do not overlap, however, most ATM/POS networks have agreements to accept each other's cards. This means that cards issued by one network will typically work anywhere they accept ATM/POS cards for payment. For example, a NYCE card will work at a Pulse POS terminal or ATM, and vice versa. Many debit cards in the United States are issued with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo allowing use of their signature-based networks.
The liability of a U.S. debit card user in case of loss or theft is up to $50 USD if the loss or theft is reported to the issuing bank in two business days after the customer notices the loss.
The fees charged to merchants on offline debit purchases—and the lack of fees charged merchants for processing online debit purchases and paper checks—have prompted some major merchants in the U.S. to file lawsuits against debit-card transaction processors such as Visa and MasterCard. In 2003, Visa and MasterCard agreed to settle the largest of these lawsuits and agreed to settlements of billions of dollars][.
Some consumers prefer "credit" transactions because of the lack of a fee charged to the consumer/purchaser; also, a few debit cards in the U.S. offer rewards for using "credit" (for example, S&T Bank's "Preferred Debit Rewards Card" ). However, since "credit" costs more for merchants, many terminals at PIN-accepting merchant locations now make the "credit" function more difficult to access. For example, if you swipe a debit card at Wal-Mart in the U.S., you are immediately presented with the PIN screen for online debit; to use offline debit you must press "cancel" to exit the PIN screen, then press "credit" on the next screen.
2009-07-08: Minimum and Maximum Charges for Visa in USA
The Merchants Agreement for Visa states (page 9, or 14/141 in PDF):
Always honor valid Visa cards in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts in order to accept a Visa card transaction is a violation of the Visa rules.
As a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, U.S. merchants can now set a minimum purchase amount on credit cards (but not debit cards), not to exceed $10.
In the United States, an FSA debit card only allows medical expenses. It is used by some banks for withdrawals from their FSAs, medical savings accounts (MSA), and health savings accounts (HSA) as well. They have Visa or MasterCard logos, but cannot be used as "debit cards", only as "credit cards", and they are not accepted by all merchants that accept debit and credit cards, but only by those that accept FSA debit cards. Merchant codes and product codes are used at the point of sale (required by law by certain merchants by certain dates in the USA) to restrict sales if they do not qualify. Because of the extra checking and documenting that goes on, later, the statement can be used to substantiate these purchases for tax deductions. In the occasional instance that a qualifying purchase is rejected, another form of payment must be used (a check or payment from another account and a claim for reimbursement later). In the more likely case that non-qualifying items are accepted, the consumer is technically still responsible, and the discrepancy could be revealed during an audit. A small but growing segment of the debit card business in the U.S. involves access to tax-favored spending accounts such as FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs. Most of these debit cards are for medical expenses, though a few are also issued for dependent care and transportation expenses.
Traditionally, FSAs (the oldest of these accounts) were accessed only through claims for reimbursement after incurring, and often paying, an out-of-pocket expense; this often happens after the funds have already been deducted from the employee's paycheck. (FSAs are usually funded by payroll deduction.) The only method permitted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid this "double-dipping" for medical FSAs and HRAs is through accurate and auditable reporting on the tax return. Statements on the debit card that say "for medical uses only" are invalid for several reasons: (1) The merchant and issuing banks have no way of quickly determining whether the entire purchase qualifies for the customer's type of tax benefit; (2) the customer also has no quick way of knowing; often has mixed purchases by necessity or convenience; and can easily make mistakes; (3) extra contractual clauses between the customer and issuing bank would cross-over into the payment processing standards, creating additional confusion (for example if a customer was penalized for accidentally purchasing a non-qualifying item, it would undercut the potential savings advantages of the account). Therefore, using the card exclusively for qualifying purchases may be convenient for the customer, but it has nothing to do with how the card can actually be used. If the bank rejects a transaction, for instance, because it is not at a recognized drug store, then it would be causing harm and confusion to the cardholder. In the United States, not all medical service or supply stores are capable of providing the correct information so an FSA debit card issuer can honor every transaction-if rejected or documentation is not deemed enough to satisfy regulations, cardholders may have to send in forms manually.
A direct debit or direct withdrawal is a financial transaction in which one person withdraws funds from another person's bank account. Formally, the person who directly draws the funds ("the payee") instructs his or her bank to collect (i.e., debit) an amount directly from another's ("the payer's") bank account designated by the payer and pay those funds into a bank account designated by the payee. Before the payer's banker will allow the transaction to take place, the payer must have advised the bank that he or she has authorized the payee to directly draw the funds. It is also called pre-authorized debit (PAD) or pre-authorized payment (PAP). After the authorities are set up, the direct debit transactions are usually processed electronically. Direct debits are typically used for recurring payments, such as credit card and utility bills, where the payment amounts vary from one payment to another. However, when the authorisation is in place, the circumstances in which the funds are drawn as well as the dates and amounts are a matter of agreement between the payee and payer, of which the bankers are not concerned. In countries where setting up authorization is easy enough, direct debits can also be used for irregular payments, such as for mail order transactions or at a point of sale. The payer can cancel the authorization for a direct debit at any time, and the banker can decline to carry out a debit if the transaction would breach the terms of the bank account out of which payment is to be made, for example if it were to cause the account to overdraw. (Banking law does not authorize a bank to alter the payment amount.)
A direct debit instruction differs from a direct deposit and standing order instruction, which are initiated by the payer. A standing order involves fixed payment amounts paid periodically, while a direct deposit can be of any amount and can be casual or periodic.
Direct debits are available in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Direct debits are made under each country's rules, and are usually restricted to domestic transactions in those countries. An exception in this respect is the Single Euro Payments Area which allows for Euro-denominated cross-border (and domestic) direct debits since November 2010. In the United States, direct debits are processed through the Automated Clearing House network.
A direct debit instruction must in all cases be supported by some sort of authorization for the payee to collect funds from the payer's account. There are generally two methods to set up the authorisation:
One method involves only the payer and the payee, with the payer authorizing the payee to collect amounts due on his or her account. However, the payer can instruct his or her bank to return any direct debit note without giving a reason. In that event, the payee has to pay all fees for the transaction and may eventually lose his or her ability to initiate direct debits if this occurs too often. However, it still requires all the account holders (not merely the payer) to watch statements and request returns if necessary, unless they have instructed their bank to block all direct debits.
The other method requires the payer to instruct his or her bank to honour direct debit notes from the payee. The payee is then notified that he or she is now authorised to initiate direct debit transfers from the payer. While this is more secure in theory, it can also mean for the payer that it is harder to return debit notes in the case of an error or dispute.
In Europe, the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) payment system is available in each SEPA country for payments from and to any SEPA country (regulation 260/2012).
In the United Kingdom, a direct debit requires the customer to authorise a direct debit instruction with their bank. This task is carried out via the service user (payee). Companies or organisations wanting to use direct debits to collect customer payments must have a SUN (service user number). This can be done in two main ways: through requesting sponsorship by their bank to help with a formal application process or by using an outsourced company to obtain a "Facilities Managed SUN" and handle the payment processing.
Over 70% of adults regularly pay by Direct Debit in the UK, making it a widespread payment option.
Banks operate a direct debit guarantee. In this, if a customer disputes an amount that has gone out of their account by direct debit, they can contact their bank and ask for an immediate refund. It is then the service user's responsibility to ask the customer for the money. However, the service user is not automatically liable under the guarantee for any bank charges caused by the service user's error, for example if an incorrect direct debit transaction causes the customer to go overdrawn. However, there are conditions where claims for consequential loss are considered under the direct debit guarantee.
To set up a paperless direct debit, nothing needs to be signed by the customer, which is why the system is so strongly regulated. A customer has the right to request a paper direct debit instruction. Some types of bank account do not allow direct debits; typically current accounts do as well as some deposit accounts. Direct debits cannot be collected on credit card accounts and should not be confused with a credit card continuous authority. The rules and regulations for a continuous credit card authority are different from the direct debit guarantee.
Any direct debit instruction that has not been used to collect funds for over 13 months is automatically cancelled by the customer's bank (this is known as a "dormancy period"). This can cause problems when the mandate is used infrequently, for instance, taking a payment to settle the bill for a seldom used credit card. If the credit card company has not collected a payment using the Direct Debit mandate for over 13 months the direct debit mandate may have been cancelled as dormant without the customer's knowledge, and the direct debit claim will fail.
Direct debit payments can be set up via these methods:
The problem of direct debit fraud is extensive according to research by Liverpool Victoria Insurance which reveals that over 97,000 Britons have fallen victim to criminals setting up fraudulent direct debits from their accounts. An average of £540 goes missing before the customer notices. Direct debit payment fraud in 2010 accounted for around 10.6% of all identity fraud cases. The extent of direct debit scamming is set to grow to 41,000 cases a year by 2013, equating to a 57% rise.
However, the problem is exacerbated by some of the banks themselves for failing to implement any controls which prevent companies or fraudsters taking monies from business and consumer accounts. The problem of cancelled and obsolete direct debits being wrongfully revived or re-implemented is estimated to cost UK consumers £385 million in 2010. For those customers who find out, it takes them on average four months to notice. Although no specific figures were collected it appears a substantial number of people lose considerable amounts of money annually because the obsolete direct debit is neither noticed nor recovered.
On 7 January 2008, Jeremy Clarkson found himself the subject of direct debit fraud after publishing his bank account and sort code details in his column in The Sun to make the point that public concern over the 2007 UK child benefit data scandal was unnecessary. He wrote, “All you'll be able to do with them is put money into my account. Not take it out. Honestly, I've never known such a palaver about nothing”. Someone then used these details to set up a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK. In his next Sunday Times column, Clarkson wrote, “I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake.”
In Germany, banks generally provide direct debit (elektronisches Lastschriftverfahren (ELV), "Lastschrift", Bankeinzug) using both methods since the advent of so-called Giro accounts in the 1950s.
The Einzugsermächtigung ("direct debit authorisation") just requires the customer to authorize the payee to make the collection. This can happen in written form, orally, by e-mail or through a web interface set up by the payee. Although organisations are generally required not to instruct their banks to make unauthorised collections, this is usually not verified by the banks involved. Customers can instruct their bank to return the debit note within at least six weeks.
This method is very popular within Germany as it allows quick and easy payments, and it is suited even for one-time payments. A customer might just give the authorisation at the same time she or he orders goods or services from an organisation. Compared to payments by credit cards, which allow similar usage, bank fees for successful collections are much lower. Often retailers such as supermarkets will process Girocards as direct debit (ELV) transactions after performing a real-time risk analysis when the card is swiped. This is possible because the Girocard contains the bank account number and routing code of the giro account in the magnetic stripe. The customer agrees to the direct debit by signing the back of the receipt, which normally contains a long contractual text that also allows the retailer to contact the customer's bank and get their address in the case the debit is returned ("Rücklastschrift"). Direct debits are practically free for the retailer, allowing them to save the Girocard interchange fees (approx. 0.3%) that would be associated with PIN based transactions, but incur a higher risk as the payment can be returned for any reason for up to 45 days. Therefore, they are used usually for returning customers that have already had successful Girocard (PIN-verified) transactions at the same store or are purchasing low-risk or small-ticket items.
To prevent abuse, account holders must watch their bank statements and ask their bank to return unauthorised (or wrong) debit notes. As fraudulent direct debit instructions are easily traced, abuse is rare. However, there can be issues when the amount billed and collected is incorrect or unexpectedly large. There have also been cases of fraudulent direct debit where the defrauders tried to collect very small individual sums from large numbers of accounts, in the hope that most account holders would be slow to raise an issue about such small sums, giving the defrauders enough time to withdraw the collected money and disappear.
The Abbuchungsauftrag ("posting off") requires the customer to instruct his or her bank to honour debit notes from the organisation. Direct debits made with this method are verified by the customer's bank and therefore can not be returned. As it is less convenient, it is rarely used, usually only in business to business relationships.
In the Netherlands, like in Germany, an account holder can authorize a company to collect direct debit payments, without notifying the bank. Doing so is very common, with as much as 45% of all banking transactions conducted via direct debit.
A transaction can be ongoing, or one-time only. For both types collecting organizations must enter into a direct debit (automatische incasso) contract with their bank. For each transaction the name and account number of the account holder must be provided. The collecting organisation can then collect from any account, provided there is enough money on the account and no block is set against direct debit from the collecting organisation. Legally, the collecting organization must have a signed and dated authorization card specifying the amount (to be) debited.
Transactions can be contested depending on the type of transaction, time since the transaction and the basis of dispute. Authorized transactions of the ongoing type can directly be recalled via the bank of the account holder within the 56 days (8 weeks) since the transaction. Authorized one-time only transactions can be recalled via the bank within 5 days. Unauthorized transactions can be contested via the bank within a limited time period after the transaction.
To prevent fraudulent transactions the collecting organization is required to present to the account holder's bank, upon request, a signed authorization card (machtiging). If this card cannot be presented, all direct debit transactions may be considered to be fraudulent. Some online shops offer the possibility of paying by direct debit, but since they typically do not receive a customer's signature, their payments may officially not be honoured.
Another security measure is a "selective block" whereby the customer can instruct the bank to disallow direct debits to a specified account number. Blanket blocks are also available.
The direct debit system in the Republic of Ireland is operated by the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO). Direct debit instructions can be given in writing or by telephone. There are protections for the holder of the account being debited in the event of a dispute.
Direct debit is a very common payment option in Japan. When signing up for a service, such as telephone, a customer is usually asked to enter their bank details on the service submission form, to set up for automatic payments, and the company they are signing up to will take care of the rest. Sometimes, but not always, the customer is offered the possibility to enter credit card details instead of bank account details, to have the money directly debited from credit card instead of bank account.
In Malaysia, the direct debit system is available via the product known as FPX – Financial Process Exchange. FPX supports online direct debit as well as batch direct debit. It opens new doors for e-commerce in Malaysia, in particular business to business (B2B) and business to commerce (B2C) payments.
FPX allow customers to make payment at e-market places such as websites and online stores as well as for corporations to collect bulk payment from their customers.
It leverages on the Internet banking services of participating banks and provides fast, secure, reliable, real-time online payment processing. FPX provides a complete end-to-end business transaction, resourceful payment records, simplified reconciliation and reduced risks as fund movements are between established financial institutions.
Supported by Bank Negara Malaysia and the local financial institutions, FPX is operated by FPX Payment Gateway Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary company of Malaysian Electronic Payment System (1997) Sdn Bhd (MEPS).
In Australia direct debit is performed through the Direct Entry system also known as BECS (Bulk Electronic Clearing System) or CS2, managed by the Australian Payments Clearing Association. An account holder can authorise a company to collect direct debit payments, without notifying the bank.
A common example of direct debit is authorising a credit card company to debit a bank account for the monthly balance.
Many smaller companies do not have direct debit facilities themselves, and a third-party payment service must be used to interface between the biller and the customer's bank. For this a small charge (typically $1–2 per transaction, incorporated into the bill amount) is made by the payment service.
Direct credit and debit instructions are only available to institutional customers. Direct credit instructions are used for payrolls and other large scale regular payments. Direct debit instructions are used by insurance companies, utilities and other large organisations which receive regular payments. Although governed by APCA rules, the actual exchanges of instructions occur through bilateral exchanges. There is no central “clearinghouse” for bulk direct entry payment instructions.
In the United States, direct debit usually means an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer from a bank account to a biller, initiated by the biller.
In South Africa direct debits, also known as debit orders, are performed through the ACB. An account holder can authorise a company to collect direct debit payments. The client signs a debit mandate form giving the requesting company permission to debit their account with a fixed or variable monthly value. This value can be recurring or once-off. This is an effective, safe and more cost effective alternative to receiving money in cash, by cheque or EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer).
There are three types of commonly used debit orders in South Africa: EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer), NAEDO (Non-authenticated Early Debit Order) and AEDO (Authenticated Early Debit Order).
In Poland, direct debit is operated by KIR S.A. (Krajowa Izba Rozliczeniowa, National Clearinghouse) and participating banks as one of the functionalities of the ELIXIR clearing system. The payer has to authorize the payee by filling, signing and submitting a standarized paper form in two copies. One copy, after filling in payee details and a customer identification number, is sent by the payee to the payer's bank, which verifies the signature. From now on, the payee may debit the payer's account. Since 24 Oct 2012 it is also possible to submit such authorization through the payer's bank, often also online.
The payer can:
In case of cancelling a transaction, funds are immediately returned to the payer's account. Interest is also adjusted as if the transaction never happened.
Collecting fees through direct debit is supported mostly by big players such as telco, insurance and utility companies and banks themselves. It is commonly used to pay bills, credit card debt, loans etc.