WASHINGTON — High-profile breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels have focused attention on the problem of credit card fraud. Shoppers will soon have a new tool to protect their security — a credit card with built-in keyboard.
“We can essentially eradicate traditional credit card fraud,” says Jeff Mullen, founder and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Dynamics Inc.
“We’ve put an entire computer architecture into your average everyday credit card,” says Mullen. “There are over 100 components squeezed into one-tenth of a cubic inch of volume.”
Even with all its circuitry, Mullen says the card is as flexible as a traditional credit plate.
“They are waterproof, can survive in your washing machine, and they last over 4 years on a single battery charge,” says Mullen.
Mullen says the card, which will be available later this year, with a still-to-be- announced issuer, will be free to consumers.
No code, no credit
To operate the card, the user enters a personal code on the five buttons on the credit card.
“You enter an unlocking code that only you know. If you enter the correct unlocking code, then the credit card number is displayed visually, so you can use it for online transactions,” says Mullen.
The middle six digits of the credit card number appear on a blank screen, after the correct code is entered.
“Then we write the world’s first card-programmable magnetic stripe, so you can use that card for your day-to-day, in-store tranactions,” says Mullen.
If the user fails to enter the correct code, the person holding the card doesn’t see the credit card number, and no data are written on the magnetic card.
“So, if you lose the card, or the card is stolen it’s irrelevant,” says Mullen. “It’s a dead piece of plastic.”
Crooks want more than your plastic
While a stolen physical credit card is an inconvenience to the user, hackers don’t need the card to inflict financial harm.
For example, Target customers were targeted with malware that exposed credit card and personal data for up to 70 million customers.
Mullen says the card’s magnetic code protects against similar attacks.
“Inside the magnetic stripe, every time you turn on the card we add a dynamic security code that changes every time you use the card,” says Mullen. “So, if your credit card data is ever stolen from a merchant, or illegally swiped, that transactional data — that mag stripe data — cannot be used for another transaction.
The card also protects the user from fraudulent online purchases.
“On the display a consumer can press a button on the card to toggle the display from showing your credit card number to showing a dynamic online security number,” says Mullen.
“So, when you’re making online purchases, or over the phone, that number changes every time you use it,” says Mullen. “So if someone were to write down that number, and take that online number, it couldn’t be used to make another transaction.”
Mullen says the cost of the card will be absorbed by card-issuers, which are trying to head-off damages from massive security breaches.