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VISA explains decision to stop HoloMag.

Holography News previously reported the suspension by VISA of the HoloMag[TM] holographic/magnetic stripe from American Bank Note Holographies (ABNH). HN spoke to Karen Gullett, Senior Vice President for Global Brand Management at VISA, who provided an insight into the reasons for the company's decision.

Ms Gullett explained the new VISA branding programme, of which the HoloMag stripe was an integral part, went live in September of 2005 in various locations, primarily outside the US. By the end of that year, VISA had received a limited amount of reports that some of the new cards with the 'shiny silver stripe' were not working at merchants.

In some of these cases, the card caused the terminal to 'freeze', requiring a terminal reboot. VISA dispatched teams into the field to analyse the problem and eventually narrowed the cause to electro static discharge (ESD) from the HoloMag stripe.

Reliability compromised

While VISA admitted the rate of these instances were low, it did not feel it was useful to quantify the level of the problem. The issue of disruption to merchant activities and the compromise to their promise to their commitment to reliability were overriding factors in VISA'S decision to suspend the implementation.

At the time of the suspension Ms Gullett said VISA was not sure of the total number of cards that used HoloMag in the field, but estimated it was in the region of 25 million. All this was taking place as VISA had started implementation of the new branding program, and HoloMag, on its cards in the US. Eventually, if and when fully implemented, HoloMag could have been on over one billion VISA cards globally.

VISA directed issuing banks to continue to use the 'Dove' hologram, both standard and mini, supplied by ABNH and De La Rue Holographies.

Wide lens approach

As for the future for holograms on VISA cards, Ms Gullett stated that 'VISA continues to rely on holographic technology as an integral element to protect its cards from counterfeiting'.

VISA was working with a number of different companies on 'enhanced holographic features' and was 'looking with a wide lens' at a range of technologies which would enhance card security as part of an ongoing programme. She did not comment on whether second generation HoloMag stripes would address the ESD issue undergoing testing.

Ms Gullett mentioned that any change from the current use of the VISA dove hologram would be phased in during a transition period, and that VISA would work closely with its partners, the card issuers and manufacturers on any residual issues from the HoloMag problem.

Today VISA continues to use the dove hologram to protect its cards from anti-counterfeiting. Meanwhile with the acquisition by OpSec ofJDSU's holographic business which was previously ABNH (and subsequently renamed Viavi), HoloMag is now a part of OpSec's portfolio of holographic products.

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Title Annotation:From the Archives: 10 years ago ...
Publication:Holography News
Date:May 1, 2016
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