With EMV, the global standard for the inter-operation of credit card chips, finally making its way around the world to the US, many believe that we may finally be moving into a world of true credit card security. However, adding this technology won’t necessarily entirely solve the problem. Although requiring a pin when the card is used does require a lot more security than no pin at all, there is always a risk, particularly since this pin is rarely changed, that someone else could get access to your pin and use the card. One solution to this problem? A constantly changing credit card number. This is exactly the solution that’s currently being developed and tested by France’s Oberthur Technologies.
The way the prototypes their testing work is that the card contains a computer chip which randomizes the number every 40 or 60 minutes. The card contains a mini ink screen the size of a postal stamp on which the code appears. In order to ensure that card continues to ‘produce’ new numbers, the mini ink screen is powered by a lithium-ion battery with a life span of 3 years.
Although this seems like the ideal solution for the big credit card companies, there continues to be one big issue with Oberthur Technologies’ solution…cost. In their current form, the cards would be 50 times more expensive than swipe cards and 10 times more so than EMV cards ($10-$20 vs an avg of $1.20 for EMV cards). They reckon that the reduced fraud costs, better peace of mind for cardholders, and the ability to facilitate mobile payments (also incorporated in their solution) will be a big motivator for credit card companies to make the switch to once their cards are released in 2017. Given how long it’s taken for EMV cards to be adopted in the US (even though they were widely used around the world for years), it’s safe to assume that credit card companies as well as the vendors they work with will again be slow to come around to a new, albeit, better solution.