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Living in a third world cards country

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With that title, I bet you thought I was going to blog a bit more about China and how their card systems are developing.


In fact, China, Russia, South Africa and many other emerging nations have robust, reliable and secure card networks, thanks to new infrastructures and ideas.  For example, most of Eastern Europe, Russia and South Africa use SMS text messaging to maintain card security on transcations.

Customers simply sign up with the program and then, based upon the parameters they set such as transactions more than $100 domestically or any overseas transaction, they get an text message pinged to their mobile every time there's a transaction.

This advert from Alfa Bank in Russia illustrates the idea well:

So I'm in Hong Kong yesterday and need some cash.

My AMEX card is not setup for ATM withdrawals, but I have two UK cards in my wallet.

Both are rejected.

Ah well, I'm lucky as I manage to beg HK$1000 (about US$150) from friends to get enough cash to pay for the taxi back to the hotel.

This morning I call my voicemail with Skype, as it's about US$2 per minute to use my mobile, and find a message to call the fraud centre of both of the UK card companies concerned.

So I do.

Both are courteous and helpful and explain why they barred my cards.

However, I point out, the fact is that I travel globally all year.  They know that.

They ask that I always call before I travel.  I say, fine, shall I call you every day?

They tell me it's policy to leave a message, as they did, so it shouldn't be an issue.

I respond that it costs me US$2 per minute to pickup messages on my mobile whilst outside the EU, and that SMS text messages would be a far cheaper, simpler and more real time method of managing the issue than calling me a leaving a voicemail.

"I'm sorry sir, but our systems are not set up to do that.  But I'll recommend it to my manager."

I bet you will.

This is Britain in the 21st century.

Combine this with the completely dumb way we rolled out Xiring terminals and Chip & PIN, and I think I'll have to move to China, Russia or Africa to get a decent credit card service.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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