I've been in the Point of Sale industry for decades. Parsing card magnetic stripe track 1 data has never been difficult, but lately we've started to see some odd data in the name field of cards that customers have been swiping on our PIN pads. (It's also possible that this data isn't coming from a real magstripe, but rather from the virtual track 1 data encoded on the card's EMV chip).

Specifically, we're seeing occasional occurrences of the \ (backslash) character. I certainly know and use the / for its intended purpose. I've seen charts of the character set used for tracks 1/3. Backslash is included but it's generally got the notation "special" next to it versus "data".

I'm trying to find the purpose/use of the backslash.

  • some sort of punycode? Or non-ascii character? Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


I've seen exactly 2 cases so far. In both cases it appears as though the card issuer used the backslash as a substitute for a non-letter in the surname:

Case 1:


The \ was probably used instead of a hyphen. Not sure why they did this.

Case 2:


The \ was probably used instead of a period. Again, not sure why.

Now that Cardholder Name can be returned from an EMV tag, all bets are off! I've already seen a Cardholder Name (tag 5F20) that contained lowercase characters. Lowercase wouldn't be permitted by ISO 7813 in track 1 data; it wouldn't even be possible because of the limitations of the character set/namespace of track 1.

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