More than 80 percent of the nation’s regional banks are considering switching from magnetic cash cards to ones embedded with IC chips to make counterfeiting more difficult.

A Kyodo News survey shows that 14 of the 112 responding regional banks have suffered damage from counterfeit bank cards.

But the survey, conducted last week, found that 47 banks, or more than 40 percent, set no upper limit on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from an automated teller machine, making it difficult to protect deposits.

The survey was conducted on 64 regional and 48 “second-tier” regional banks.

Ninety-three regional banks, or more then 80 percent, said they are considering embedding integrated circuits in their bank cards.

Major banks have begun adopting such measures as issuing ATM cards with chips or with a biometrics capability that identifies holders through palm vein patterns.

Though regional banks are likely to follow suit, only a small number have come up with specific measures. The substantial costs required to introduce new steps is a major factor.

Among the regionals that have introduced new cards, the Bank of Ikeda, based in Osaka Prefecture, said it will issue biometric-capable cards probably in June. Chiba Bank and the Bank of Kyoto said they are preparing to issue some kind of new card this year.

The survey was conducted a day after the Japanese Bankers Association urged member banks to take steps to combat such theft.

Eighty-five regional banks said they are considering setting new upper limits on withdrawals or enabling users to set limits themselves. The upper limits set by many of the banks are 1 million yen to 3 million yen.

About a dozen banks said they have already started offering insured deposits, where banks reimburse depositors whose money has been stolen via fake cash cards as long as they are not to blame for the theft. About 60 more banks said they are considering offering such services.

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