Gartner Report: Banks Pushing Consumers To Less-Secure Payment Methods

The major credit card brands—and the banks they work with—do a fine job talking up security when they're at podiums or writing news releases. But when it's a choice between consumer security and lower transaction fees? Faggedaboutit. Fees win out every time.

At least that's one of the core conclusions from a report released Thursday from technology analysis firm Gartner Inc.

With "signature fraud rates ten times higher than PIN debit as of the first quarter 2007," Gartner analyst and report author Avivah Litan said, the banks pushing for the signature-based options has solely a money-making purpose. And consumers, according to the report, aren't buying it.

The survey of 4,500 online U.S. adults, conducted in August 2007, showed a strong preference for PIN-based debit and other alternative payment options.

"Despite significant marketing campaigns by banks and card issuers to steer consumers towards using debit cards with a signature — ostensibly so that the banks can earn more interchange revenue — consumers prefer entering their personal identification number to pay for groceries with their debit card over all types of signature-based card payments, whether credit or debit," Litan said.

"Banks promote signature-based debit payments because they earn more fee revenue from card-accepting merchants, on the premise that they are riskier and more prone to theft, so the banks need to earn higher fees to compensate," she added.