South Africa's major financial institutions are accelerating their preparations to enable a mass rollout of EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) compliant smartcards.
In the past six months, secure e-payments company Prism Holdings has delivered and implemented Thales e-security EMV Host Security Modules (HSMs) and EMV Smart Card Personalisation software valued at over R4,5-million to SA's major banks.
"And we expect to double this figure by the end of June this year as the move to chip technology steps up a gear," says Gerhard Claassen, managing director of the Crypto Business Unit at Prism, which represents Thales in South Africa.
Gerhard Claassen, managing director, Crypto Business Unit, Prism
The EMV standard was developed by a joint industry workgroup to facilitate the introduction of chip/smartcard technology into the international payment systems environment. The local banking and retail sector is expected to be fully EMV-ready by 2005.
According to Claassen, the Thales HSM is the only physically secure, tamper-resistant security server accepted throughout the financial industry. It provides cryptographic functions to secure transactions in retail financial applications including PIN encryption and verification, debit card validation, stored value card issuing and processing, chip card issuing and processing, message authentication and symmetric key management.
Thales' EMV smartcard personalisation system is designed to either reduce or eliminate the need for card issuers (banks) to alter their existing magnetic stripe based card management systems when issuing smartcards to customers. It produces composite files in a format ready for the creation of personalised chip cards.
"Indeed, this system provides card issuing banks with a simple, future proof personalisation path to smart cards by easily integrating with legacy systems. It offers them a complete solution for the generation of all cryptographic data required to be written to a smartcard as well as the additional data required for EMV compliance standards. This will make it a relatively simple task for the banks to migrate their existing magnetic stripe card holders to chip cards," Claassen concludes.
For more information contact Gerhard Claassen, Prism Holdings, 011 548 1000, www.prism.co.za