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Malay banks switch to smart cards

Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 28 (Reuters): Malaysian banks launched chip-based ATM cards today following a spate of fraudulent cash withdrawals, making the country among Asia’s first to migrate from magnetic stripe cards.

Top lender Malayan Banking and the 11 other domestic banks hope to replace the 11 million magnetic stripe cards in circulation by June, after a series of withdrawals using fake cards last year cost depositors millions of ringgit.

“Thereafter, all ATM machines will be disabled to accept magnetic stripe ATM cards,” said a statement from the banks' MEPS automatic teller machine (ATM) network.

MEPS said more than 3,700 ATM machines across the nation of 24 million people had been upgraded to accept the chip-based cards.

The new cards contain an embedded microchip, making duplicating the information on the chip difficult to almost impossible.

Smart-card pioneer France has used the technology for 14 years without a single case of copying, a local banker said.

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