Visa Cards Go Hi-Tech

Reading creditcardforum today, I see that Visa has joined forces with Emue Technologies to launch its latest attack against identity theft: a credit card embedded with a microprocessor, a 12-button keypad, and an 8-digit alpha-numeric display. Cool in a James-Bond kind of way, the display generates a one-time-use security code after you type in your PIN number on the keypad. When making online and over-the-phone purchases, this unique code proves to retailers that you are indeed the card’s owner. Stolen credit card information will be rendered useless whenever a security code is required, unless the fraudster somehow also has your PIN (tip: don’t use your birthday).

There are some potential downsides to the card, though. I’m guessing it’s not waterproof, so make sure to take it out of your pants pocket before doing the wash. And don’t bend it, which might crack the screen. Card replacements will be necessary every three years when the battery dies. Online stores will also have to adapt by making sure their checkout process accommodates the new capability. If a retailer does not require a security code, or has no way of authenticating one on the spot, then the technology is pretty much useless.

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But the card is still a good idea and should successfully curb a significant amount of “card-not-present” fraud. It’s currently being tested through four European banks, and, if successful, will be in wallets around the world by this time next year.

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