The term debit cards covers all cash cards such as EC cards, savings bank cards or cash cards that are used for cashless payments or for withdrawing money from ATMs. The cards are manufactured in a standardized format, the ISO 7810 format, and are made of plastic. Colloquially, debit cards are also still referred to as check cards. This originates from the time when the presentation was required to cash so-called Eurocheques.
Debit cards in different systems
There are three different debit card systems in Germany. Since 2004, there has been the Maestro system, which is a normal debit card without additional functions. Also from America comes the Mastercard, another debit system, which is now recognized worldwide, but is mainly used in America. In Germany, the term is better known in connection with the credit card of the same name. This also applies to VISA. The debit system also originates from the USA and is used worldwide. While in Germany VISA cards are mostly credit cards, in France either VISA credit or VISA debit cards are issued. Unlike credit cards, debit cards immediately debit the associated account with the payment.
The security of debit cards
To make cashless payment with a debit card as secure as possible for the payee, the card must be authorized for use. This takes the form of a secret code; alternatively, the cardholder’s signature is also accepted. If you pay at German cash registers with a German debit card, the imprinted recognition code is read. This offers more security than the data on the magnetic strip, which can be duplicated quite easily by resourceful specialists. This code, the so-called MM feature, is not read abroad, which is why money transactions with counterfeit cards are particularly popular from abroad.
The history of debit cards
The past of the debit card differs in America and in Germany. While in Germany the Eurocheque card was developed at the end of the 1960s to verify Eurocheques, in the USA the ATM cards, which already used a card and personal PIN, were the first cards for cashless payments. Over time, a wide variety of systems and very different cards entered the financial market. Since 2009, the Monnet project has been pushed forward with the goal of bringing a European debit card to the market. The initiators of the project are banks in Germany and France. However, the trend in debit cards is clearly towards a global application.
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