Are numberless bank cards just security for the sake of it?

First, there was contactless and now there is numberless with one bank opting to ditch the 16-digit number altogether, but why and is it just security for the sake of it?

Challengers to the market like Starling started the trend for the uncluttered bank card but recently there’s been a step further with payment service Curve announcing in early 2020 that it had launched the first numberless cards in Europe since then UK digital bank chase has made a feature of the fully numberless debit card which comes with its current account reasoning that it adds an extra layer of security for customers.

Chase says a customer details are stored behind a secure login on its app, so its customers are not putting their personal details at risk if they lose their card, plus should a customer ever need to replace their card details they can instantly generate new ones in the app, a spokesperson for the bank said: “We hear consistently from customers that they view having a numberless card as an advantage in protecting against fraud and theft.” but there have been mixed reactions in the public domain with some customers finding accessing their 16 digit number via the app a hassle when making purchases.

So is it security for the sake of it? 

We are in the business of security and where there is an extra layer of security to be had we will always encourage it, so it’s not a bad thing to remove numbers from cards however it is important to remember that whilst it’s not printed on a physical card the number does still exist digitally and more than likely the majority of transactions made using the card number are also digital. In most cases of card fraud, the attack happens online – which is exactly where the number is stored.

It’s also interesting to note that whilst Barclaycard, Natwest, Halifax and HSBC have all recently rolled out new card designs they have simply moved the details to the back, which could be argued is purely for aesthetics as opposed to security, with no UK high street banks adopting the numberless card this also poses the question whether it is a security feature worth having. In a report from Guardian Money one UK bank said they had considered the numberless route but had decided against it, reasoning it forces customers to obtain details digitally creating inaccessibility for those who are not digitally active.

So whilst numberless cards may be a design fashion it remains to be seen whether or they’ll be adopted as a security feature anytime soon by the major banks – our guess is probably not.

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