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Please let me know your thoughts on which way of partially obfuscated account number you would use (in a payment application) and why.

Masking all digits except the last four: Account Number: **********4986

Specifying in the label that only the last four digits are shown: Account Ending In: 4986 or Account Number (Last 4-digits): 4986

  • Which one would you choose? What's the context? – Luciano Jun 7 '18 at 14:32
  • Large application. The label is displayed in multiple places. All places have a different context (statements, confirmations, reports, etc), but the representation should be consistent everywhere. Leaning towards masking. The reason is it is most common and the hope is it is understood by majority. The reason I'm considering using just the last digits is because this is what it actually is without the visual noise. – Dima Jun 7 '18 at 16:19
  • I see. In this case it's not noise, it serves a purpose as described in Nash's answer. – Luciano Jun 7 '18 at 16:21
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I would choose the Account Number: ******6734 option. If people expect the account number to be there, then this option communicates best that

  1. The Account number is consisted of multiple digits.
  2. A part of it is obfuscated out of privacy/security reasons.

The concept of replacing digits/characters with asterisks is also known from passwords, so I would go with that, if you don't need to worry about the screen space.

  • Agreed. This is a common practice seen for stored credit cards and for social security numbers. – Benjamin S Jun 7 '18 at 18:48
  • Going with the crowd and accepting this answer. – Dima Jun 12 '18 at 14:04
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I prefer the verbiage version especially if it's mobile or mobile-first. Although using "*" as masking is the convention in passwords and also for account numbers, the string of asterisks can be quite long assuming and variable. This form of masking is gaining traction and I think it works by being consistent with a conversational tone between interface and user.

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