Changes to bank identification numbers are coming

September 17, 2021

What is a BIN anyway?

Have you ever looked at the long number on your credit card and wondered what the numbers meant?

Some of these numbers are unique to you, but not all of them. Payment processors like Worldpay from FIS® can use the first six digits of the credit card number to find the card brand (e.g Visa, Mastercard), the bank that issued your card, and where it was issued.

We’ll sometimes pass that information to our customers to help them check the status of a payment or resolve a cardholder query.

These six digits are called the Bank Identification Number (BIN), and potentially have a million combinations. But, some card brands reserve the first number or set of numbers in the BIN, for example all Visa cards will start with a 4.

With so many card issuers, banks, and countries in the world, and the limitations to the BIN structure, there’s a risk that six digit BINs aren’t going to be able to hold all the information they need to - in short, our industry is running out of BIN numbers to use.

Enter the eight-digit BIN

So, who’s responsible for the length of the BIN? Like many industry practices – the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is responsible for the BIN length, and in 2015 they announced that they were expanding the BIN to eight digits, from six.

The card schemes – Visa, Mastercard, American Express etc., will start introducing eight-digit BINs from April 2022. Here’s an explanation in visual terms:

The current BIN structure:

Current Bank Identification Number (BIN) shown on a credit card

After April 2022:

New Bank Identification Number (BIN) shown on a credit card

Why are changes to bank identification numbers important?

Earlier, we mentioned that payment processors use the BIN to find out the card brand, card issuer, and country. In the payment process, this information is critical – if we don’t know that your shoppers are using an American Express card, we can’t ask American Express to authorize the payment. And, if we don’t know where your shopper is, we can’t work out what fees will apply to the transaction or how much risk is associated with that country.

With the BIN used in so many parts of the payment process, it’s possible that the BIN number change could affect any Worldpay system you use.

We’re working out what these changes mean for all our customers, and if you see any changes, we’ll be sure to contact you at the earliest opportunity.

What can I do now?

To get ready for this change, ask yourself if you use the BIN anywhere in your own processing. If you do, you’ll need to update your logic to handle the new eight-digit BINs.

If you use other companies to handle your payments, such as a third-party terminal supplier, you should speak to them to make sure they’re ready for this significant change.