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Introducing 3D Secure

18th March 2019

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Today, we’ll start a phased rollout of 3D Secure, an authentication tool for online purchases, to our customers. We explain how this will help keep customers' money safe.


What do 20 pens, 10 mugs, 8 glasses, 4 tea towels and one pot of cuticle cream all have in common? Well apart from our kitchens and stationary cupboard being slightly better stocked (and some healthy-looking cuticles within the Operations teams), all of these items have been part of the purchases to test and ultimately deliver 3D secure.

So, what is 3D Secure?

3D Secure is a tool for online transactions that requires the account holder to complete an authentication process for some purchases. It forms part of the security of your account.

Some banks use passwords. But we’ve all been in that position when trying to make a purchase late on a Sunday evening. Can you remember the first, fourth and ninth character of the password you set 5 years ago? Probably not.

At Starling, we’ve decided to use ‘one-time passwords’ sent via SMS as the type of authentication for online purchases. This means that a text will be sent to your phone when you are required to authenticate for a specific online purchase. One code will be sent for each purchase meaning that static password can be left behind.

Why have we implemented 3D Secure?

Implementing 3D Secure adds to the many ways we ensure your money is protected, helping you to make online payments safely.

For certain transactions, we want to make sure that the person making the purchase is the account holder. One way to do this is to make the account holder provide information that only they would know, for example, codes sent to the phone number linked to your Starling bank account.

A few websites require banks to support 3D Secure, and rightly so. This is all about making payments more secure for customers. That’s why we’re working hard to roll out this security feature out to all our customers.

a phone displaying a 3D Secure text confirmation

As a customer, what will I have to do?

If you’re paying on a website that uses 3D Secure, you’ll see the 3D Secure screen showing that the transaction is being processed. For some transactions, you will then see a screen where you will be required to enter a ’one-time password’ to complete the transaction.

The ’one-time password’ will be sent to your phone via SMS. There is no charge for you to receive the texts and no changes to how you use your card for other transaction types e.g. contactless or chip and PIN. You won’t need to reply to the text, you’ll simply need to read the code and enter it into your web browser when the text pings into your phone. If you’re making a purchase from your Starling joint account, only the card holder making the purchase will receive the text, not both of you.

Using one-time passwords is the first phase of Starling rolling out 3D Secure. We will be working on a biometric authentication as an alternative to SMS passwords, with this planned to be rolled out later this year.

How is Starling delivering 3D Secure?

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be enrolling all our customers - personal, business and joint - into 3D Secure. You don’t have to do or download anything and you won’t need a new card, we’ll manage the enrolment process for you.

So next time you buy something online you may see 3D Secure live!

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