A BIN number – also known as a bank identification number – is the name for the initial set of four or six numbers that appear on a payment card. Knowing what the BIN number is makes it possible to identify the issuing bank – or any other financial institution – responsible for the card. BIN numbers are present on a range of cards including:
Alternative payment methods such as prepaid cards
What is a BIN for?
The key aspect of a BIN is that each individual financial institution has a BIN that is unique. It should be noted that the BIN is also sometimes known as an issuer identification number (IIN). This reflects the fact that payment cards of this kind are increasingly being issued by institutions that aren’t actually banks. For the purposes of this article, BIN refers to the numbers on payment cards issued by any kind of institution.
When a customer enters the first six digits of the long number on the front of a payment card being used as an online payment method, those digits provide the following information to the retailer:
The contact details – including name, address and phone number – of the bank the funds will be transferred from
The brand of card itself, such as Visa, American Express or Mastercard
The type of card, including whether it as a debit card, gift card, credit card or some other form
The level of card if applicable, such as a business card or platinum card
Whether the card issuer is in the same country as the device being used to take the payment
Whether any address that the cardholder has provided matches the address for them that is held on file
The purpose of a BIN number
The BIN system was created in order to make it possible to undertake secure transactions across international borders, having been developed by the American National Standards Institute and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) in order to provide a reliable source of information to identify institutions that provide payment cards.
What is a BIN number checker?
The global state of the modern marketplace, driven by the inexorable rise of online retail, has created a situation in which merchants of every size find themselves having to deal with the complexities of international payments. The BIN is a means of ensuring that the security of such payments is built into the system at a very basic level. A BIN checker is a tool that helps to protect merchants of every size from fraud and identity theft and the reputational – as well as financial – risk that these threats carry with them.
The BIN checker validates the identification number in question and confirms that it is a valid number. All that the merchant in question has to do is enter the BIN into the BIN checker to be told whether it is genuine.
One of the advantages of using a BIN checker is that the database of institutions that issue payment cards is constantly being updated, so merchants can always stay on top of the newest card providers and the latest BINs. The other clear advantage is that the merchant knows for certain that the card the payer is using is genuine and can be legitimately linked to a specific named account.
We Can Help
If you’re interested in finding out more about BINs, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.