Migrating to 8-Digit BINs: Key Information to Consider Before Transitioning

March 24, 2021

ICBA Bancard’s partner card networks, Visa and Mastercard®, have released several notices and bulletins regarding the migration to 8-digit Bank Identification Numbers or BINs, but many banks are left wondering why it is happening and what they need to do to prepare.   

The International Standards Organization (ISO) published an update to ISO 7812-2 in 2015 to expand BIN length from 6-digits to 8-digits to ensure the number of possible BINs is enough to supply a growing industry. The total length of a card number, however, will remain unchanged.

The standard requires that card processors be able to accommodate and process transactions using 8-digit BINs by April 2022, but that does not mean that every issuer must migrate all BINs by that time. New BINs opened after April 2022 will be 8 digits long, but some issuers may choose not to migrate legacy 6-digit BINs at all. For a community bank to make the decision that is best for them, a few points should be considered. 

Principal Member Banks 

For banks that are principal members, the card network is the best place to start. Online portals for Visa and Mastercard contain announcements, bulletins, and reporting to help banks understand how their BINs are affected and what changes will occur to fee structures. In rare cases a principal issuer may identify a BIN overlap—where converted BIN plans or ranges result in two identical 8-digit BINs.

To help illustrate the point let’s use the example of a bank that issues cards for two consumer programs using the same 6-digit BIN and uniquely identifies each program by adding a 3-digit plan or range. If, for example, BIN 123456 uses ranges 111 and 112 to distinguish between a regular consumer program and a high-net-worth consumer program, respectively, and then the bank decides to convert to 8-digit BINs, each BIN will become 12345611.

If such an overlap occurs, the bank must decide whether to open a new 8-digit BIN or work with their processor and card network partners to use a plan or range to continue distinguishing between the two card types. 

Associate or Affiliate Card Network Members 

For banks that are associate or affiliate card network members, the network sponsor is the place to start a conversation about your options. ICBA Bancard is currently working with all card network and processor partners to make the best decisions for our sponsored BINs and client banks. 

The “best decision” will avoid negative cardholder impact, minimize expense, and ensure compliance. Some BINs may remain 6 digits for the foreseeable future while others will migrate to 8-digits in 2022. We are analyzing BIN plans and ranges to identify where BIN overlaps exist and as they are identified, we are working with the processors, card networks, and impacted banks to resolve conflicts. When a decision has been reached for each sponsored BIN, related client banks will be notified.   

It is important to remember that after the decision is made to remain on 6-digit or migrate to 8-digit BINs, a bank’s card network and processor must be notified. Not all processor work is complete as of the penning of this article, so configuration changes may need to occur.

ICBA Bancard will communicate decisions on behalf of sponsored BINs and client banks will be involved in configuration changes as needed. Principal member banks should work with their processor account managers to ensure configuration work is completed. As always, whether a client bank is a principal member or sponsored, ICBA Bancard is here to support you along the way. 

Rebecca Kruse is executive vice president of operations at ICBA Bancard and can be reached at [email protected] or 202-821-4316
Twitter: @RebeccaKruse11
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rkruse41/