Pin locked in ATM vs Pin locked at POS(Point of Sale) terminal

Is it true for when your card pin gets locked in an ATM after incorrect attempts, it’s automatically updated/notified to Monzo and also an SMS alert is sent to customer.

However if your card pin gets locked during shopping (POS) due to incorrect pin entered multiple times while attempting to make a payment for transaction value more than £30, customer cannot be notified through SMS alert.
This is because the merchant’s terminal where the customer enters the pin does not pass the information to bank and therefore there is no way for the bank to identify the customer has locked out the card pin in this specific scenario ?

Could someone put some light on this ? And assumption is this is a industry wide issue. Not sure if Monzo already has a solution for pins getting locked at ‘POS’.

Sure, it’s less of a POS verses ATM issue but rather an online PIN verses offline PIN lock.

In an offline PIN entry, the PIN you enter is checked against the card itself. In these cases, the card keeps a count of how many incorrect attempts have been made and if it’s more than three, blocks further attempts against it. It is then up to the merchant’s systems to send us a failure message or try an online PIN entry. Of course, we can’t tell you it’s blocked if the card/terminal doesn’t tell us! :sweat_smile:

In online PIN entry, the PIN is checked against what we hold as part of the payment authorisation. By Mastercard rules, all ATMs must check the PIN online (especially since ATMs tend to be used to unblock the offline PIN!).

Where possible by merchant terminals, Monzo cards should prefer online PINs and therefore, we should be able to send you a declined due to blocked PIN notification though the app. Merchants are also increasingly moving to support and prefer online authorisations and online PIN checking on their side as part of an industry effort to decrease the fraud risks and customer confusion associated with offline payments.

It is indeed an industry wide issue that requires support from all sides but we’re a little ahead of the curve here.


Hi Rika - Thanks for your swift response.

So in the above case, how a unhappy path will be handled.
Scenario where Offline pin is used during POS transaction, card pin gets blocked, and merchant’s terminal supports offline pin only. I believe here there is no way Monzo will be notified that the customers card pin has been locked out and therefore no notification on the app and customer now confused since he/she has not been notified of the offline pin locked out either through app or any SMS alert ?

While that situation is increasingly rare (but still possible), we would indeed have no way of knowing that the offline PIN was blocked so would not be able to alert the user through the app. :slightly_frowning_face:

In the real world though, the user should be told by the POS terminal that their PIN is incorrect and eventually blocked. We as the card issuer would potentially also find out that the offline PIN is blocked if the user goes to any terminal that is online and attempts to use their card there.

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