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All the UK's major banks, except HSBC, are reportedly to insist that customers use home 'chip and pin' devices for online banking, in an effort to stamp out fraud.

The Guardian reports that millions of the handheld devices will be sent out, free of charge, to online banking customers over the next six months.

When logging in to their bank account, a customer slots their debit card into the card reader -  that then generates a unique code which they must input before making a transaction.

Barclays introduced its own PINsentry card reader last month, and now other banks are following suit.

As the devices operate independently, they should prevent attacks via key logging spyware which can allow scammers to find out customers' usernames and passwords.

Online banking fraud is a big issue, and incidences of this have been on the rise lately - £33.5m was stolen from online bank accounts in the UK last year, according to figures from APACS.

Graham Charlton

Published 14 May, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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