Connect with us


« Back to Glossary Index

What Is A PIN? 

A personal identification number (PIN) is a numeric (sometimes alpha-numeric) security code used to verify whether a person has the authority to access a system.

Deeper Definition

A personal identification number is a security code used to verify a person’s identity before granting them access to sensitive information or to perform specific actions. It prevents unwanted access to a secure environment. For instance, to withdraw money at a bank’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM), you will input the pin associated with your debit or credit card.

The invention of the ATM brought about the creation of the PIN. In 1967, a bank in the United Kingdom known as Barclays introduced the first ATM system. They did this as an efficient way of dispensing cash to customers. The system used codes printed on checks to facilitate transactions. In 1972, Lloyds Bank, also in the United Kingdom, issued customers the first bank card to utilize a PIN for security.

Though PINs originated from financial services, it plays a crucial role across multiple sectors. They include real estate, telecommunications, and cyber security. Generally, PINs can work for anything digital, confidential, and refers access. The PIN provides the following benefits:

  • Prevents unauthorized access to confidential information 
  • Provides a secure way to authenticate a person’s identity
  • Guarantees privacy to a great extent

PIN Example 

A personal identification number is relatively short. It is typically between 4 and 8 digits, and it prevents unauthorized access to computer systems.

For instance, when you use your credit or debit card at the ATM, the system first asks you to enter your PIN before performing any transaction. If for any reason, you input it incorrectly, the system will not grant you access. Some ATMs may confiscate the cards if you fail to enter it correctly after multiple attempts.

It’s fundamental to keep one’s PIN confidential because it authorizes access to sensitive information. When creating a PIN, it is advisable to create one that is difficult to guess but easy for you to remember. For instance, using your birth date is not a good option. Anyone who knows or can guess it would gain access to your sensitive information.

« Back to Glossary Index

Get the news right in your inbox