PINless Debit Processing
PINless Debit Processing

Publication Date: February 2023

Executive Summary

Reducing friction in the transaction process is top of mind for many stakeholders within the payments industry. In the U.S., card-present EMV debit transactions can be processed without a PIN (PINless debit), allowing for quicker payment experiences at the time of checkout.

In general, PINless debit transactions are processed through one of two methods:

  • Global AID PINless debit. These transactions use one of the global AIDs where the transaction is processed over the global network. These transactions result in a memo post/hold of available funds against the consumer’s bank account. In the past, this has sometimes been referred to as “signature debit”.
  • U.S. Common Debit AID PINless debit. These transactions use one of the U.S. Common Debit AIDs. The merchant has the option of routing the transaction to the global or the domestic debit payment networks supported on the card, with which the processor and possibly the merchant have relationships

Adoption and support for routing U.S. Common Debit AID PINless debit transactions vary among the many payment industry stakeholders. For example, retailers in petroleum and hospitality who use a dual-message schema (i.e., a pre-authorization followed by a transaction completion) have seen limited adoption, and many others in the payment ecosystem have struggled with implementing U.S. Common Debit AID PINless debit.

In this white paper, the U.S. Payments Forum seeks to streamline the implementation process by identifying example transaction flows for EMV PINless debit processing, defining key terms related to PINless debit, providing implementation guidance for the U.S. market, and pinpointing additional considerations for its implementation.

The overall objectives of this document are:

  • Increasing the consistency of PINless EMV debit transaction processing across all stakeholder groups, including payment networks, acquiring processors, and POS or other technology providers
  • Maintaining the merchant’s ability to selectively route debit transactions to all eligible debit networks on the card
  • Avoiding/minimizing any negative impacts to the consumer/cardholder experience
  • Providing guidance that can serve as an educational resource for Forum members and that reflects the Forum’s subject-matter expertise and value to the payment ecosystem at large

For the purpose of this white paper, PINless debit transactions are defined as those that meet the following criteria:

  • The transaction is initiated with a debit card that supports both a U.S. Common Debit AID and a global AID
  • Although the card has a PIN associated with it and supports PIN as a cardholder verification method (CVM), either the merchant chooses not to prompt for PIN or, when the merchant does prompt for PIN, the cardholder chooses to bypass PIN entry using an option supported by the payment terminal
  • The card issuer approves the transaction as a debit transaction and provides the corresponding response message

The U.S. Payment Forum’s Debit Routing and Petroleum Working Committees collaborated to develop this white paper, with participation from additional Forum members. Its purpose is to improve the consistency of PINless debit processing adoption among industry stakeholders, including merchants, acquirers, point-of-sale (POS) providers, issuers, and payment networks. As the PINless debit processing ecosystem evolves, merchants are encouraged to work with their providers to stay informed of available capabilities.

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Please note: The information and materials available on this web page (“Information”) is provided solely for convenience and does not constitute legal or technical advice. All representations or warranties, express or implied, are expressly disclaimed, including without limitation, implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose and all warranties regarding accuracy, completeness, adequacy, results, title and non-infringement. All Information is limited to the scenarios, stakeholders and other matters specified, and should be considered in light of applicable laws, regulations, industry rules and requirements, facts, circumstances and other relevant factors. None of the Information should be interpreted or construed to require or promote the establishment of any solution, practice, configuration, rule, requirement or specification inconsistent with applicable legal requirements, any of which requirements may change over time. The U.S. Payments Forum assumes no responsibility to support, maintain or update the Information, regardless of any such change. Use of or reliance on the Information is at the user’s sole risk, and users are strongly encouraged to consult with their respective payment networks, acquirers, processors, vendors and appropriately qualified technical and legal experts prior to all implementation decisions.

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