Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So much for cardless transactions - Visa CodeSure and Gemalto Ezio

[DISCLOSURE: My employer provides solutions for the bank card industry.]

You may be forgiven if you think that plastic cards are going away. Some merchants are providing mini-cards that can be accessed by RFID readers, meaning that you don't have to carry a regular-sized card with you. And in some cases, the card is disappearing altogether - I never carry my grocery cards with me, for example, but instead enter a numeric code that corresponds to my account.

But that doesn't mean that cards are going away. During my recent trip to France, I had to make sure that I used services that could handle my old-fashioned card. Smart cards with chips are the rage in Europe, and are slowly being introduced in North America. But for some people, a card with a chip is not enough. This is what Visa said:

The introduction of chip and PIN has vastly improved the security of card payments across Europe. When the cardholder is physically present, chip and PIN provides the best possible indication that a genuine Visa card is being used by an authentic cardholder to conduct a legitimate transaction.

But, for transactions where the cardholder is not physically present, there’s far less certainty....

Visa CodeSure is a way of authenticating transactions where the cardholder is not present and chip and PIN transactions can not take place, such as when making purchases online.

In many ways, Visa CodeSure is a standard Visa chip card. It can be used just like any other Visa card to conduct transactions at the point of sale and ATMs. It can also be issued as a debit card, a credit card, a prepaid card or a commercial card. And it is fully compliant with other Visa solutions such as Verified by Visa.

What makes it different is that the card incorporates an eight-digit alphanumeric display, a button keypad and an inbuilt battery with a three year life-span. This means that it has all the necessary technology to generate the highly secure dynamic passcodes.

If you go to the Visa CodeSure page, you can see a picture of the card with the keypad.

But Visa isn't the only player in this market. Gemalto has its own solution, which is significantly simpler than Visa's eight button solution. From the press release:

The new Gemalto Ezio product is immediately available in the United States.

The card’s online secure password feature is activated by pressing a button on the face of the card. A one-time code is digitally generated and displayed. The card becomes a second factor of authentication, allowing the user to enter this unique and non-reusable numeric code on a Web page, in addition to their user name and password.

With these types of innovations, it appears that it will again be necessary to carry a card with you....
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