How To Keep Your Visa Card Safe In Kenya


Visa has a card security week campaign in Kenya. The campaign seeks to raise awareness among card-holders on what type of security features can be found within the EMV chip card on consumer Visa cards.

“Fear of fraud remains one of the major barriers to card usage in Kenya and many other markets. We believe that greater awareness of the security measures in place as well as the advancements made in card security will enable consumers to comfortably enjoy the convenience of using their cards for everyday spend,” said Jabu Basopo, Visa GM for Southern and East Africa.

Plastic payment cards have various security features that aspire to keep customers protected from fraudulent activities. These security features, inform of a square microchip, is one of the most powerful weapons against fraud because it is virtually impossible to duplicate and provides powerful encryption that prevents unauthorized access to information stored on it. This makes electronic payments quite safe.

Visa used to include the magnetic stripe technology and it was pretty secure but we have seen media reports that hackers managed to replicate the magnetic stripe & sell this data to hackers across the World.

An EMV chip is difficult to crack because it uses dynamic data and each transaction carries a unique ‘stamp’, which prevents the transaction data from being fraudulently reused, even if the data or the card is stolen. This saves banks and consumers from losing money through fraud.

Other security features found in the EMV chip card include the Card Verification Value (CVV), which is a set of three numbers printed on the back of the card either alone or as the final three numbers in a long string of digits.

The CVV is never stored in the chip or magnetic stripe and assists in authenticating card-not-present payments, such as those performed online. Entering the CVV number manually proves that you are physically in possession of the card inhibiting fraudsters who have obtained your account information. You should never place the image of the back of your card online because this can compromise your card security.

Furthermore, the signature panel on the back of the Visa card has a tamper-proof design. This means that if someone tries to erase the existing signature, the word “VOID” will appear. The Visa dove hologram found on the back the card also protects consumers from fraud. Many counterfeit cards contain a one-dimensional image printed on a foil sticker. However, the true dove hologram should appear three dimensional and moves when the card is tilted back and forth.

Visa also performs real-time fraud monitoring. This means that every time a consumer uses his or her card, the transaction is checked for unusual activity on the VisaNet system.

There are over 3.4 billion EMV payment cards in circulation worldwide as reported by EMVCo. in May 2015.

The use of plastic cards in Kenya has been on a steady rise with consumers shifting from cash and cheques. There has been a notable increase in the usage of cards at ATMs & POS terminals. (Source: EMVCo Press Release May 2015)

“Using debit cards for everyday purchases offers greater security, control and convenience compared to cash; it is also one way of ensuring personal finances are managed effectively with minimal costs for the cardholder,” Basopo added.

By championing safe financial transactions, Visa has undertaken to align its business strategy with Vision 2030, an initiative that aims to transform Kenya into a middle-income country by 2030 through six priority sectors including financial services.

Here are some consumer tips necessary to take advantage of when using your EMV Chip card:

  1. Never share, write down or save your Personal Identification Number
  2. Cover the keypad at an ATM or a retailer with one hand to stop people observing your PIN – stop the ‘shoulder surfers’
  3. Walk away from an ATM if you feel unsafe & avoid using ATMs at night, particularly in remote areas
  4. Never allow people to distract you or offer to help you at an ATM
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