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Visa Incorporated, a global payment technology company, has said its yearly products-based transactions reached $7.4 trillion in March.

It said it would take steps to protect the integrity of transactions on its platform.

Speaking during the inauguration of Card Security Week Campaign in Lagos, Business Development Leader, Visa West Africa, Emezino Afiegbe, said the firm was making huge investments in security of its transactions to ensure that the confidence and trust that card users have on the company continue to rise.

He said the dream of Visa is to make payment more convenient and secure for customers. “The fear of fraud remains one of the major barriers to card usage in Nigeria and many other markets. We believe that greater awareness of the security measures in place and the advancements in card security will boost consumers’confidence to embrace e-payment,” he said.

He said Visa, which has over 60 years experience in payment technology, always wants to keep a step ahead of fraudsters. He said the reliability of Visa network over the years has increased the confidence of card users in the technology.

Risk Services Director, Sub-Sahara, Visa International, Nita Omanga,  noted that Visa payment cards are loaded with security features that keep customers protected and minimise their chance of falling victim to fraudsters.

“The tough yet subtle security features are present on all Visa cards and are complemented by anti-fraud measures run in the background on both Visa and bank systems. Although tiny, the square microchip embedded in chip-enabled type of cards is one of the most powerful weapons against fraud. The microchip is virtually impossible to duplicate and powerful encryption prevents unauthorised access to information stored on it, making electronic payments safer than ever before,” she said.

She said Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chip  and pin cards are difficult to penetrated by fraudsters, because it comes with dynamic data.

“Each transaction carries a unique ‘stamp’, which prevents the transaction data from being fraudulently reused, even if the data or the card is stolen. This saves banks and consumers from losing money through fraud.

She listed other security features found in the EMV chip and pin cards as the Card Verification Value (CVV), which is a set of three numbers printed on the back of the card either alone or as the final three numbers in a long string of digits.

She explained that the signature panel on the back of the Visa card has a tamper-proof design, which ensures that signature on the card is not erased.

Omanga Visa also performs real-time fraud monitoring. This means that every time a consumer uses his or her card, the transaction is checked for unusual activity on the VisaNet system.

She explained that the use of plastic cards in Africa and most especially Nigeria has been rising with consumers shifting from cash and cheques.

“There has also been a notable increase in the usage of cards at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and at Point of Sale (POS terminals). Using debit cards for everyday purchases offers greater security, control and convenience compared to cash; it is also one way of ensuring personal finances are managed effectively with minimal costs for the cardholder,” she added.

She said by championing safe financial transactions, Visa has undertaken to align its business strategy with the vision to transform Nigeria through six priority sectors, including financial services.

She urged consumers never to share, write down or save their Personal Identification Number (PIN); to cover the keypad at an ATM or a retailer with one hand to stop people observing their PIN – stop the ‘shoulder surfers’ and also not to allow people to distract them or offer to help at an ATM.

“Walk away from an ATM if you feel unsafe and avoid using ATMs at night, particularly in remote areas,” she advised.