What does an ESWS pin mean

EC: That's why we have to enter the PIN and then sign it when paying by card

When paying with the debit card, we sometimes have to enter our PIN and sometimes sign it. Why is that?

Paying with the EC card in the supermarket has long since become a matter of course. Even the smallest amounts can now be paid with “plastic money”. The card only needs to be inserted into the reader and the transaction confirmed with a PIN or signature. But what does it actually depend on whether the PIN has to be entered or signed?

The difference between the two payment methods lies in their security for the merchant. The variant with signature (also offline payment or SEPA-ELV) is an electronic direct debit. There is no payment guarantee for the retailer here. If the customer's account is not sufficiently covered at the time of collection, the merchant will not receive any money. The customer can also object to the debit and reverse the direct debit.

PIN means payment guarantee for merchants

The variant with PIN entry (online payment or EMV payment), on the other hand, is much more sophisticated. As soon as the card has been inserted into the reader and the PIN entered, an encrypted request is sent to the server of the customer's bank. It is checked whether the amount can really be paid, i.e. whether the account has sufficient funds. If everything is checked, the money is immediately withdrawn from the account. The dealer thus has a payment guarantee, for which, however, he also has to pay a fee (the so-called dealer fee).

The PIN variant is therefore more secure for retailers, but also more expensive, which is why it can always vary whether we strain our gray cells or have to pull out the pen.