Kuala Lumpur, February 28, 2003 – Malaysians have a new, innovative chip-based card to enable them to do banking, shopping, payments and many more possibilities using just a single card.

Malaysian domestic banks today officially launched the chip-based Bankcard, which will replace the existing magnetic stripe Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards nationwide.

Speaking at the launch ceremony of Bankcard, Datuk Amirsham A Aziz, Chairman of Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS), said the launch was of great significance as it will see the advent of a new banking era for the banking community and to Malaysia. Joining the official launch were representatives of the domestic banking fraternity involved in the Bankcard project.

“The introduction of the Bankcard is a collective effort by the Malaysian banks to implement the Payment Multi-Purpose Card (PMPC), a government’s initiative to adopt smart card solutions to promote a cashless payment society in Malaysia. And this is what Bankcard offers, a better payment facility with enhance security, offering multi-applications, with a host of conveniences in a single card”, said Datuk Amirsham.

“Today’s event marks the culmination of the domestic banking industry continuing efforts in ensuring that our customers are given the highest priority by providing high-end technology and solutions for their banking or payment transactions,” added Datuk Amirsham.

The twelve local banks involved in introducing the Bankcard are Affin Bank Berhad, Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad, AmBank Group, Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad, Bumiputra-Commerce Bank Berhad, EON Bank Group, Hong Leong Bank Berhad, Maybank Group, Public Bank Berhad, RHB Bank Berhad and Southern Bank Berhad.

The Bankcard has a smart chip embedded in it, which can perform multiple tasks with ATMs, smart terminals and card readers. The smart chip technology makes Bankcard more tamper resistant, with the data stored significantly harder to extract and copy compared to the current magnetic based ATM cards. The enhanced security will address the security concerns such as card tempering or forgery. The Bankcard also has a higher information storage capacity, which is only accessible to authorised parties. The chip allows for multiple applications such as ATM transactions as well as payment functions such as e-Debit and MEPS Cash, which is an e-Purse application.

Bankcard allows ATM transactions such as cash withdrawal, fund transfer, balance enquire and so on, together with the payment applications as well as other merchant tie-up applications and programmes.

The payment functions such as MEPS Cash or e-Purse and e-Debit allows customers to make cashless payments for the purchase of goods, services or utility bills. MEPS Cash offers off-line payments and is more suited for small value purchases while e-Debit will deduct the purchase amount directly from the customer’s selected savings or current account into the merchant’s bank account.

“Both MEPS Cash and e-Debit allow for better cash management and is a smarter way to shop, with little need for carrying cash thus making transactions safer and all the more convenient for both customers and merchants. The business community will benefit from the simplicity and efficiency of cashless transactions and profit from lower cash handling costs as well as reduced security risks related to handling cash,” said Datuk Amirsham.

Datuk Amirsham also said that from the last quarter of 2002, the domestic financial institutions have committed considerable investments to upgrade equipment such as ATMS and reading machines at merchants, infrastructure, including educating their customers and merchants on the benefits, features and various functionalities that Bankcard offers.

More than 3,800 ATMs nationwide are now fully upgraded total chip-based ATM transactions. To date, 974 ATMs allow MEPS Cash loading and more than 3,000 merchants are equipped for Bankcard. The banks are also continuously upgrading the ATMS and increasing the number of merchants to switch to Bankcard payments. The Bankcard and MEPS cash logos will be displayed at ATM machines and merchants accordingly to inform the cardholders and business community on the accessibility as well as the acceptance of the respective applications.

The domestic banks are also undertaking their respective aggressive publicity campaign to encourage its customers to convert their magnetic strip ATM card to the chip-based Bankcard.

“There are more than 11 million magnetic stripe ATM cards in circulation and the financial institutions will undertake an accelerated card conversion exercise without causing any inconvenience to the cardholders out there. All new cards issued will be chip-based. We are targeting end June 2003 to complete the conversion and thereafter all ATM machines will be disabled to accept magnetic strip ATM cards. We therefore encourage customers to quickly convert their cards to reduce their anxieties about fraud as well as enjoy the many conveniences. Each bank will undertake their own programmes to inform customers on the conversion exercise.” said Datuk Amirsham.

The banks will also undertake to provide more applications with Bankcard. They are also looking at using Bankcard‚Äôs enhanced MEPS Cash as another alternative for payment at toll expressways. Each bank will add more applications based on their business and merchant programmes. The financial institutions are also supporting the government’s implementation of incorporating banking-related functions into the Government MultiPurpose Card or MyKad.

The Bankcard or Payment Multi-Purpose Card, one of the Multimedia Super Corridor applications, was developed in line with the government’s plans to implement a national electronic payment environment and a cashless society. The card is being issued in concert by all domestic banks.

For more details on the Bankcard, visit