We can all see and feel that technology is improving at the speed of light. Sometimes it develops so fast that we simply can’t keep up with it.
New technologies are emerging each day, but hackers are becoming smarter too, so there is a need for even more advanced solutions which will keep us safe online. So, the war between the good guys and the bad guys keeps on and on as nobody seems to back off.
In the field of finance, this is even more obvious. There are so many fraudsters trying to rob you out of your money. They are coming up with innovative methods to outsmart the experts who, in turn, try to invent new security solutions to shield people from fraudsters.
So, what are these new technologies that can save us from cyber criminals or at least reduce the rate of their success?
In this article, we are going to list technologies that can help you improve credit and debit card security.
You might have been issued a credit card or debit card with a micro computer chip. This EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip succeeded the magnetic stripe and its purpose is to encrypt your card transactions. Magnetic stripe sends your card number without the encryption, while the EMV chip assigns a one-time unique code to each of your transactions. This code expires if there is no need to return the purchase.
Europe has been using this technology for nearly two decades but the US has only recently started to implement it. This method makes it more difficult for skimmers to steal your card information due to these one-time codes which are hard to track.
Still, EMV chips are not almighty. You have to ‘dip’ the card into the reader in order for the chip to work. If you only slide it, the magnetic stripe will not be able to protect your card’s number. In addition, online transactions are not protected by EMV chips due to the fact that you have to enter your card’s information. Lastly, a method called EMV shimming, which is very similar to skimming, is increasingly used by fraudsters and can be used to steal your information at point of sale systems.
Biometrics is a technology that records and analyzes your biological characteristics in order to authenticate them. Even though we often see it in movies as a futuristic feature, it is widely used in modern society. One of its use cases is exactly the finance and credit card industry.
When you register the card in your bank, you also store your fingerprint, which is converted into an encrypted digital template. Later on, when you pay for an item in a store, you dip your card into the retailer’s terminal and verify your identity on a sensor which verifies if the fingerprint matches yours. If everything goes well, your transaction will be approved. In a nutshell, it is very similar to the technology that cell phones use for fingerprint unlocking.
Having released an EMV card with a fingerprint scanner, MasterCard emerged as the pioneer in this field. South Africa was the first country where this type of card was used and later this year, it should be tested in Europe and Asia as well.
Multi-factor authentication could be called the ‘all-in-one’ method of securing card payment. As a user, you are authenticated through a few independent credentials such as password, tokenization and biometrics, in order to make a transaction.
Due to the ever-improving hackers’ skills, it is inevitable that this combination of methods will become necessary very soon.
A CVV (Card Verification Value) number is a 3-4 digit number found on debit and credit cards. Traditionally, it has been static and unchanging. However, a few companies have recently started to work on finding a way to have this security code change at a specific time interval.
This means that you have to have a card with you when making a payment. If not, the card information will be false.
The idea is to include a small display in cards which will show the changing code. The code will change at a regular pre-defined time interval and these cards will be very simple to use ‒ like the ones we already use.
This method will replace credit card numbers with a code containing numbers and letters which will be possible to decipher only by payment processors in order to link it to a specific account or transaction. This will make card numbers less vulnerable to theft and purchases will be much more secure.
Tokens will be used just as regular cards to support customer requests and facilitate reporting. Merchants will store tokens instead of handling or storing unsecured cardholder data on-site.
- RFID Cards
Contactless credit and debit cards use RFID (radio-frequency identification) to make secure payments. Examples of such cards are MasterCard’s PayPass and Visa’s payWave, which allow their holders to wave their cards in front of a contactless payment terminal in order to make a transaction.
Contactless purchases do not require a cardholder to enter their PIN, so a maximum purchase limit per transaction is $50-$100. This payment procedure is much faster, more convenient and more secure.
However, the problem with RFID method is that anyone who has an RFID reader and walks by you in the street or on a bus can also read you card information.
- Mobile Wallets
Similar to the previous method, mobile wallets also rely on contactless payment. NFC (near field communication) technology enables mobile wallet apps to link the secure credit card information which is stored in your mobile device to the connected payment terminal. Therefore, all you have to do is open the app that contains your credit card information and move it in front of the terminal.
In addition, this app can be used for managing your finances by tracking your spending and signing up for digitized receipts and purchase notifications. Finally, it can help you store data on your phone, improve mobile shopping experience and make better spending decisions.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a rather ambiguous concept for many people but this doesn’t prevent it from developing and slowly but surely entering all areas of our lives, including finance.
Simply put, this method will enable you to make payments and get financial information just by speaking to the device. It sounds sci-fi, but it’s a real thing. You enter a store, pick up the item you need and get the order charged to your Amazon account. In some stores, people even pay with Google system.
Still, it remains to be seen how to make this method secure enough, one of the possible answers to this issue being the blockchain technology.
Apparently, there are numerous technology discoveries that can not only improve security, but also make the entire payment process more convenient and faster. Some of these methods are simple and straightforward, while others are ambiguous and more difficult to grasp.
However, none of these methods is foolproof. Some of them can really contribute to better protection but on the other hand, some of them are still in the initial stages of development or still being tested.
We still have to see what the future brings and if any of these methods is going to outshine all the others. But don’t hold your breath ‒ if you want to avoid identity theft, your best bet is to be careful and keep your personal information, as well credit and debit cards, in a secure place.