The payment systems that process our bank and card payments today evolved as a part of the modern shift away from physical forms of payment towards digital. To facilitate these new payment experiences, the big card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, JCB, Discover, and UnionPay) have had to solve many problems involving technology and business models.
As outlined in our Interchange guide, card brands bring multiple partners together, including merchants, issuing banks, acquiring banks.
There is one party that hasn’t been mentioned yet that is very important—the actual cardholder who receives a card from an issuing bank to use at businesses anywhere in the world. Credit cards are linked to the cardholder's bank account or credit line at the bank. Each card has 16-19 digits on the physical (or virtual) card. This value has multiple purposes:
- It acts as a unique identifier for the cardholder.
- It includes information about which issuing bank the acquiring bank should check or debit for a sale.
A bank identification number (BIN) is the first 6-8 digits on a credit, debit, prepaid, or commercial card which identifies the bank that issued the card. It is also commonly referred to as the issuer identification number (IIN).
Issuing banks request BINs as part of their agreements with the payment networks and use those numbers when issuing cards to cardholders. When a cardholder then makes a purchase, the merchant sends the transaction through the payment network, which uses the BIN to route the transaction to the right issuing bank for processing. Ultimately, the BIN is a critical part of the card number which enables transactions to flow globally.
The leading 6-8 digits of a card number contain a lot of information about the associated payment card, including:
- Issuing bank name
- Card brand
- Category level (e.g. corporate, signature)
- Card type (i.e. credit, debit, prepaid)
- Prepaid (reloadable/non-reloadable)
- Issuer country
- Account updater status (e.g. enabled/disabled)
This information can help you identify where you may have processing issues, perform a complex interchange and cost analysis, or even identify and prevent fraud. Furthermore, understanding BIN details can help you figure out how to handle declines or even contact your customers if they're having trouble paying. As a business, these analyses are key to reaching your company’s objectives for revenue growth, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.
Modern payment networks follow the ISO/IEC 7812 standard for assigning BINs. In 2015, the industry began work on a change that would increase the length of BINs from six to eight digits, accounting for an increased issuer demand for more card numbers. The 2017 revision of the standard defined the new eight-digit BIN and outlined a timeline for converting existing six digits BINs to eight digits. As of April 2022, Visa and Mastercard now only assign BINs with eight digits.
In response to this industry-wide change, you will benefit from adjusting your workflows to consider full eight-digit BINs, especially when deciding how to manage fraud, customer payment experiences, chargeback and dispute management, routing, cost analysis, and customer service. With that additional information eight-digit BINs provide, your business can more clearly identify the card products your customers are using and manage your operations accordingly.
OUR DATA SOURCES
We know that getting accurate BIN/IIN data can mean the difference in how you manage customers, your risk, your costs, and ultimately how you process transactions. The team here knows that data quality matters. We are the only provider that is constantly monitoring changes in the wider industry as well as the underlying BIN/IIN numbers and then combining it into one data set.
We work directly with merchants, payment providers, and the networks to ensure that we provide the most accurate and up to date data and are always looking for feedback or corrections. Don’t hesitate to contact us!
Updated 6 months ago