The Royal Bank of Scotland will offer its customers a handheld chip and PIN device to boost the security of its online banking service.

The device will be used together with the customer’s current debit card and PIN number. The user will insert their card into the reader and type in the PIN, followed by an eight-digit number, which they obtain from the bank’s website. This generates a unique one-time password that the customer inputs into the online banking account to authorise their transactions.

This will replace the need for passcodes and memorable words currently used to validate the customer’s identity, the bank said.

The card readers will be sent initially to customers who use online banking to set up payments to new third party accounts and make new standing order payees. The first will receive theirs next week and free of charge.

The scheme may be introduced to all the bank’s customers, but will target those most vulnerable to fraud first, according to a spokesperson.

Last month, Barclays announced that it will offer its online customers a handheld chip and PIN device to enhance the security of internet banking. Barclays expects to send over half a million card readers to its customers by the end of the year.