The BIN is such a critical part of transactions today that it’s taken for granted. And even though it’s been said ad nauseum for many years that we’re running out of BIN numbers and that a new approach is needed. And ISO’s imminent 8-digit BIN standard is intended to address the problem, but the deep integration of BIN means that the transition won’t be easy.

MasterCard has been telling anyone who will listen that it “be adding BIN ranges that begin with twos in addition to the fives that currently exist for MasterCard issuers to use beginning in October 2016. Merchants will have until June 2017 to ready their POS systems to accommodate this new set of cardholder account numbers,” noted

Double Diamond President Todd Ablowitz is arguing that this could prove calamitous—necessary but calamitous. The potential damage could be severe, but relatively short-lived. It will be short-lived because updating systems will be relatively straight-forward. The disastrous part is he fears that a very large number of people won’t initially realize how critical the BIN change is and then will get hit with oceans of declined transactions until they realize it’s all about the BIN change.

“People aren’t taking actions because they don’t realize how much this is actually a really big deal,” Ablowitz said. “Because the BIN is used for so very much, if you don’t have your BIN set properly, you’re not going to know until it’s too late.”

A big part of the perception problem is that, according to Ablowitz, BINs have been unchanged for almost 40 years. “With this change, everyone is going to have to make adjustments. If they don’t, it’s literally true that cards may not be accepted. BIN touches every step of a very long chain of events and everything has to be adjusted for it, from the POS to the gateway to the store to any gateways inbetween. Heck, even tokenization may have to be touched.”