The Central Bank of Bahrain has ordered all banks operating in the Kingdom to replace all bank cards to feature the contactless payment technology that Bahrain recently launched, within 4 months. There are more than 1.5 million bank cards in Bahrain, including 1.2 million debit cards and 306,000 credit cards by the end of 2019, and there are no figures available on the number of cards that should be replaced.
According to the circular, all banks and companies issuing bank cards, whether credit or debit, must replace and distribute bank cards that feature contactless payment technology by December 31, 2020. The circular stressed that the replacement process must be free of charge without incurring any costs to the customer.
In August 2019, the Central Bank issued a circular to retail banks, financing companies, and payment service providers regarding contactless payment transactions, as it includes obligating the relevant licensees to take the necessary measures towards providing all the requirements and related systems to support Near Field Communication (NFC) payments using debit cards, credit cards, prepaid cards, and e-wallets at points of sale and ATMs according to certain schedules, as per the announcement made by "MasterCard" and "Visa" of their new technological standards for communication.
The circular, which was issued a few days ago, came after announcing “Benefit NFC” technology for the contactless payment service, which will spare the customer from touching the point of sale and allow the completion of the payment process easily.
Bankers told "Al-Bilad" that the process will be a challenge for the banks, but they will work hard to fulfill the instructions according to the short period prescribed, especially since a number of banks have already started issuing new cards to their customers.