What’s the issue?
- In 2016, BMO launched a new debit card for everyday banking in partnership with MasterCard. It is a Debit MasterCard that acts like an Interac debit card in Canada and can be used internationally like a MasterCard to debit funds from a customer’s banking account. It is not a MasterCard credit card.
- In their initial deployment, 325,000 of these cards were mailed to BMO customers. This first batch of cards were embossed with the customer’s name. These cards do not have any issue and work correctly.
- An additional 125,000 cards were issued to BMO customers who visited a branch to get a debit card. As these cards are issued on the spot, they are not embossed with the customer’s name. These ‘anonymous’ cards contained a manufacturing defect in the EMV chip (the chip on the card that is used on conjunction with a PIN pad for security).
- When used at some merchants these cards’ EMV chips are unable to be decrypted by the payment terminal and the payment terminal displays an error code such as “Declined. MAC error xxxx”. In fact, the transaction isn’t actually declined, the transaction was never able to go through to BMO for authorization in the first place as the payment device couldn’t read the card properly.
- Customers with these cards would have to use an alternate form of payment at Cara restaurants
What cards are affected?
- The problem is limited to BMO Debit MasterCard cards issued without a customer name embossed. Note these are specifically MasterCard Debit/Interac cards. MasterCard credit cards from BMO are not affected:
What is the guest experience?
- A guest using one of these cards at a Cara location would get a declined transaction and they would have to use an alternate form of payment.
Is this problem limited to Cara?
- No. This problem has affected other merchants in Canada including Walmart and Tim Horton’s
What is BMO doing about the problem?
- On December 9, 2016, BMO began mailing re-issued, corrected cards to affected customers
- The final batch of corrected cards was mailed Jan 25th 2017, representing about 10% of the cards that were affected
- BMO expects that by Jan 30th, all impacted customers will have received a replacement card and we should not see this problem in the future
What to expect going forward?
- BMO’s expectation is that soon after Jan 30th 2017, all customer replacement cards will have been delivered and activated by their customers. We should quickly see a drop in these decline errors. Note that a corrected card may still decline if the guest has insufficient funds in their chequing account.
What should we tell guests?
- If a guest has problems using their BMO Debit MasterCard, they should contact BMO for instructions. BMO has setup an FAQ page with details on their banking site (scroll to the bottom of the page) https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/bank-accounts/banking-services/debit-mastercard-faqs
- Under no circumstances should restaurant locations display signage or messages saying that BMO MasterCard or BMO Debit MasterCards are not accepted. It is against both MasterCard merchant policies and Interac policies for merchants to display signs like this or advertise not accepting a participating member’s bank card. Displaying these signs could result in the restaurant merchant losing their ability to accept all MasterCard cards, not just limited to BMO cards. Please ensure any customer-facing signage about these cards is removed from your location.
For more information please contact your ROM or Brand operations team.