Keeping Up With the Surge in Eight-Digit BINs
For a long time, the standard length of bank identification numbers (BINs) was six digits. Card brands issued these BINs as the first part of a payment card’s card number, and through them, identified the bank who issued the cards, along with the card type, issuer country, and more. Businesses could then use BINs to learn more about their customers, perform complex cost analyses, define their retry logic, and even combat fraud. While BINs still serve the exact same important purpose in the payments landscape, there’s now one critical difference: new BINs are actually eight digits long.
This isn’t breaking news, of course. A 2017 revision to the ISO/IEC 7812 standard for assigning BINs outlined a timeline for card brands moving towards longer BIN issuance for the sake of simply meeting increasing BIN demand. By April of 2022, Visa and Mastercard stopped issuing six-digit BINs altogether. But what might surprise you is the remarkable rate at which eight-digit BIN ranges are sweeping the industry. Here at Pagos, we performed a meta-analysis of BIN files provided by Visa over the last two years and witnessed an explosive growth in eight-digit BINs, with the summer of 2023 boasting an astonishing 10-fold increase compared to the Spring of 2022. Let’s dig into what this growth looks like for Visa cards and how it might impact your business.
Note: While other card brands have also seen a surge in eight-digit BINs, Visa chose for a gradual rollout. As such, we’ll use Visa in today’s post to demonstrate this industry development.
Eight-Digit BINs: The New Normal
Let’s look at Visa as an example for just how much eight-digit BIN usage has grown in the last year and a half. Before March 2022, Visa issued approximately 6,500 eight-digit BIN ranges, accounting for less than 1% of the total. Fast forward to December 2022—eight months after the official transition—and the number of eight-digit ranges had surged to around 43,000, constituting 3.9% of the total. As of May 1, 2023, this figure skyrocketed to 72,000, and by August, a staggering 84,000 eight-digit BINs exist—7.5% of all BIN ranges.
This consistent growth in eight-digit BIN ranges means you’ll need to change how you analyze BIN data for trends in processing costs or customer behavior. Consider BIN 431431, for example. In December 2022, this BIN was categorized as a six-digit range, with the same product (Visa Gold) and issuer attributed to the entire range. By May 2023, in the world of eight-digit BINs, the issuer no longer controls the 43143100 range, necessitating the use of the full eight digits. The eight-digit range includes both Visa Gold and Visa Signature cards, with some tied to specific billing currencies while others remain undefined. Only by looking at a card’s full eight-digit BIN can you determine the actual issuer and card product—information that impacts how you review the cost of associated transactions, market to those customers, or even retry in the event of a payment failure (e.g. only retry premium cards because they’re more likely to succeed).
Eight-Digit Network Tokens
Changes to BIN ranges in payment cards also impact network tokens. Network tokens, or the encrypted payment credentials used in the place of customer payment account numbers, have witnessed a similar surge in eight-digit ranges. Approximately 99% of the range entries for tokens are broken down at the ninth digit, so if you try to analyze your payment KPIs for any network-tokenized transactions using anything less than eight digits, you’ll likely find multiple issuers, product types, and countries in the mix. In our meta-analysis of Visa BIN range data mentioned at the top of this post, 38% of network token account ranges have more than one issuer when searched with a six-digit BIN! When you consider that card product types and other data attributes can also vary, this is a large number that could add confusion to your analysis of cost and performance.
A year has passed since the mandated shift from six to eight digit BINs. At this moment, retail businesses need to pause and consider how these new BIN ranges have impacted the payments industry—and how they’ll continue to do so at an exponential rate. Primarily, the introduction of eight-digit BINs supports a much broader variation in card product type, card capabilities (e.g. prepaid and prepaid reloadable), and even the issuers themselves. If your business hasn’t adjusted your BIN logic and analytics to account for these variations, you may be missing critical information about your customers and business.
Pagos is here to help you integrate eight-digit BINs into all your systems and workflows, from reporting to routing, and even retries. With Parrot by Pagos, our direct-to-network BIN service, you’ll always have the most up to date BIN data powering your payments analytics. Here's how Parrot responses look when you search for BIN data on a six-digit BIN vs. the full eight-digit value:
Looking for better BIN data so you can improve payments performance or decrease cost by operating in the most optimized way possible? Look no further.