Barclaycard trials new security method

26 Nov 2003 View Comments
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Barclaycard plans to issue 10,000 cardholders with a portable card-reading device for authenticating internet-based purchases next year as part of a six-month trial.

When making online purchases, customers will insert cards into a calculator-like device and enter a PIN, which will generate a single-use eight-digit code that is entered online to verify the transaction.

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'It's not a technology trial to see if this device works or not, it's a trial to determine whether or not customers will be willing to use it,' said Barclaycard technology consultant Dave Taylor.

The trial, which starts in February, will involve customers who currently shop online and hold a chip-based MasterCard credit or debit card, although Taylor says there's nothing to stop the technology being used on Visa cards as well.

While the UK's conversion to chip-and-PIN will help reduce fraud in High-Street stores, it doesn't immediately protect online, mail order or phone-based retailers.

'With the move to chip-and-PIN in the UK, we anticipate that card fraud will move elsewhere. We are working closely with MasterCard to develop programmes in order to close such gaps,' said Ian Spencer, head of fraud at Barclaycard.

The trial will only involve retailers participating in Mastercard's SecureCode initiative, such as Dabs.com, although the card vendor is working hard to get more on board.

Participating retailers don't need to make any change in their existing payment processes, but can simply direct shoppers to a Barclays-hosted pop-up page where the verification code is inputted for approval.

Providing users with card readers represents a new direction in online security and something of a leap of faith, but Taylor is optimistic that a simple physical device could help convince more users that ecommerce is safe.

'Instead of additional user IDs and passwords, it uses what customers already have and know, their cards and their PIN codes,' he said.

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