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RBI enables cardholders to the benefits from the security of tokenised card transactions

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) invited reference to its circular DPSS.CO.PD No.1463/02.14.003/2018-19 dated 8 January 2019 on “Tokenisation – Card transactions”, permitting authorised card networks to offer card tokenisation services subject to the conditions listed therein. Initially limited to mobile phones and tablets, this facility was subsequently extended to laptops, desktops, wearables (wrist watches, bands, etc.), Internet of Things (IoT) devices, etc., vide our circular CO.DPSS.POLC.No.S469/02-14-003/2021-22 dated August 25, 2021 on “Tokenisation – Card Transactions : Extending the Scope of Permitted Devices”.

Reference is also invited by the RBI to its circulars DPSS.CO.PD.No.1810/02.14.008/2019-20 dated 17 March 2020 (as updated from time to time) and CO.DPSS.POLC.No.S33/02-14-008/2020- 2021 dated 31 March 2021 on “Guidelines on Regulation of Payment Aggregators and Payment Gateways”, advising that neither the authorised Payment Aggregators (PAs) nor the merchants on-boarded by them shall store customer card credentials [also known as Card-on-File (CoF)].

On a review of the tokenisation framework and to enable cardholders to benefit from the security of tokenised card transactions as also the convenience of CoF, it has been decided to effect the following enhancements –

  • a) Extend the device-based tokenisation framework referred to at paragraph 1 above to CoF Tokenisation (CoFT) as well.

  • b) Permit card issuers to offer card tokenisation services as Token Service Providers (TSPs).

  • c) The facility of tokenisation shall be offered by the TSPs only for the cards issued by / affiliated to them.

  • d) The ability to tokenise3 and de-tokenise card data shall be with the same TSP.

  • e) Tokenisation of card data shall be done with explicit customer consent requiring Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) validation by card issuer.

  • f) Additional requirements relating to CoFT are listed in the Annex.

Further, in the interest of clarity, the following points may be noted –

  • a) With effect from 1 January 2022, no entity in the card transaction / payment chain, other than the card issuers and / or card networks, shall store the actual card data. Any such data stored previously shall be purged.

  • b) For transaction tracking and / or reconciliation purposes, entities can store limited data – last four digits of actual card number and card issuer’s name – in compliance with the applicable standards.

  • c) Complete and ongoing compliance with the above by all entities involved, shall be the responsibility of the card networks.

This directive is issued under Section 10(2) read with Section 18 of Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (Act 51 of 2007).


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