RBI can help only those who help themselves

Recently, RBI mandated that all Debit card transactions on retail will require PIN – this means putting in your PIN when the card is swiped at shops, restaurants and petrol pumps. Clearly, this is done to ensure that fraudulent transactions on debit cards are avoided. This is the same (ATM) PIN you use to access your bank account through the same card on an ATM, so the PIN is very sensitive data.

I went to a restaurant the other night, and after we were done eating and gulping down large portions of saunf and sugar cubes, I gave my debit card for paying the bill, as usual. The waiter mumbled something. When I inquired, I realized he was asking for my PIN so that he could put it in his machine rather than bothering me with it!! I told him he could bring the swipe machine to me (most of these devices are wireless these days) when it is time for the PIN, but he said they don’t have the wireless one. I offered to walk up to his cashier when needed, but he wasn’t too comfortable with the idea.

I was shocked that he thought asking for the PIN was normal business and nothing unusual! The comfort with which he was poised with a pen to write my PIN suggested that he does this with everyone, and with some success. My sister-in-law mentioned that apparently this has become normal (giving PIN), his friend did the same the other day at Subway!

So much for the safety RBI wants to provide – if people are so lazy (or ignorant) about such a sensitive piece of data, no one can save them – if you hand over your ATM card and the PIN to a waiter in the mall, you are inviting trouble and tempting an otherwise honest guy!

Anyway, I gave the waiter my credit card instead. He came back in a minute and said this one also needed PIN! So I walked up to that tucked-in-a-corner machine surrounded by the kitchen staffers who were surprised to see me there; the cashier was fumbling with the card, and finally he told me the transaction went through without PIN (obviously!). 

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