If you still using magstripe debit or credit cards, shift to the more secure chip-based EMV cards. The magstripe debit or credit cards will be invalid after 31 December. The Reserve Bank of India or RBI has made it mandatory for banks to replace magstripe cards with chip-based EMV cards by 31 December. Banks are replacing magstripe cards free of cost. According to RBI data, there were 990 million debit cards and 42 million credit cards in the country as of September 30, 2018.

The RBI had in 2015 asked banks to only issue chip-based and PIN enabled debit and credit cards from September 2015 in a move aimed at protecting customers from frauds. Later the central bank extended the deadline by a few months. However, many users who were issued credit and debit cards before that deadline continued to use them.

Many banks have been communicating with their customers for replacement of the old magstripe-based debit and credit cards. SBI, the country’s largest bank which serves around 43 crore customers, in a recent tweet said: “We’re replacing ‘Magstripe Debit Cards’ with more secure ‘EMV Chip Debit Cards’, free of cost. Switch to an EMV Card today. Last day to upgrade your Debit Card: 31st December 2018."

The EMV chip technology is the latest global standard for debit card payments and this technology features debit cards with embedded microprocessor chip that store and protect cardholder data. “This is a much secure technology as compared to magstripe variants of card," SBI says on its website.

The chip-based EMV cards are designed to prevent fraud and difficult to clone, says SBI.

After issuance of new chip-based cards, SBI says it will block the old magstripe debit cards after giving sufficient time to the cardholder.

It is very easy to identify if your debit card is an EMV card or not. There is a chip located on the face (centre-left position) of the chip-based EMV cards.

If your magstripe debit card has not been replaced yet, SBI has asked its customers to apply for a new card by visiting the bank branch. SBI account holders can also place a request for issuance of the replacement EMV chip debit card through internet banking.