Is the future of credit card security no card at all?

Is the future of credit card security no card at all?

Summary: Smartphones may well take over as our payment platform of choice, but could a proliferation of payment apps kill the golden goose?


With millions spent by financial institutions each year on finding new ways to secure EFTPOS and credit cards, could the solution to better banking security be to simply do away with plastic altogether?

That's one potential future, according to Craig S Wright, vice president Australia - Asia Pacific at the Global Institute for Cyber Security & Research.

"My opinion on card device security is that we will move away from cards," Dr Wright said during a panel discussion on the CeBit Future of Payments conference in Sydney.

"We have devices — smart watches, Nike wristbands — all sorts of fun and funky things which can act as near field devices," he said.   

By way of example, he said a recent experiment involving the rewiring of a smartglove had enabled himself and a team of researchers to pay for groceries at a local Woolworths with a Jedi-like swipe of the hand.

"At the end of the day we all have [mobile phones]… and they are getting cheaper every single year. And we will find people not leaving home without them, but they will leave home without their wallet.

"What is the future of cards? Not cards. Anything else that we can think of that is strange, weird and wonderful and that will give us access, and pay and be trusted."

Andrew Weaver, associate at Payments Consulting Network argued that plastic cards would remain for some time yet, and continue to need new and updated security.

"From a future-looking perspective that is absolutely where we are going, but I can also look back 15 years to when we [were talking about] being a cashless society by now," he said.

"The future view, absolutely, I agree that is where it is going, but it will actually take a while to get there. The [United] States is an interesting example. They are talking about deploying EMV [Europay, Mastercard and Visa] chips – contactless or not – on physical pieces of plastic because it will take the market so long to move to the point where everyone is using their mobile [for payments]."

Andrew Rothwell, chief technology officer at Tyro Payments said possibly the greatest inhibitor to the mass transition from credit card technology to mobile phone-based payment technology was the proliferation of disparate, niche payment applications.

"How many payment mobile applications exist in the world today?  Dozens. And how many consumer experiences are they trying to encode onto a mobile phone? Dozens," he said.

"We have consumer experiences in hospitality, medical, automotive… everyone is trying to focus on a customer engagement experience to provide the best app. And then they back-end that with a payment as well.

"Pulling out a mobile phone with 55 different apps from Dunkin' Donuts, from Coke, from Macca's, from wherever… forget it."

Topics: Banking, Mobility, Security

Tim Lohman

About Tim Lohman

Tim has written about the technology sector since the mid 2000s. He covers innovation across the business, education and government sectors.

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  • thoughts

    "but I can also look back 15 years to when we [were talking about] being a cashless society by now"

    Rely on the predictions of somebody who doesn't have a great track record of predicting? No thanks.

    Of course, it's turned out that nobody's really that great at predicting things. The opinions of "analysts" are no better than the predictions of the drunk guy at the bar.

    There are a few things to work out with NFC:

    -There have been incidents of readers picking up the wrong card/phone, or picking up a card/phone when the person wasn't intending to use NFC. After all the hype, it turns out that yes, readers can pick up something further away than intended in the right circumstances.

    -Getting retail to support it. I dunno about Australia, but here in the USA it's not really picking up steam. Businesses are super-conservative and won't change unless they have a really good reason.

    -According to Wikipedia, there are still some security issues to work out as well.
  • Smart Phone?

    I don't have or need a "smart phone".
    Neither do lots of my friends.
    Yes, they are getting cheaper.
    But they get you on data plans.
    Besides, all we need is a phone.
    I know, we're all dinosaurs.
    Still using debit cards and (God forbid!) cash.
    And paying bills with checks!
  • Get your scannable tattoos here!

    Special version for those who attend evangelical churches: QR code in infrared ink HIDDEN in your favorite Jesus tattoo!

    (just a joke folks, just a joke)
    • More then tattoos

      Stegenography, commerce and the resurrection. Works for me. But sub dermal circuits (which can or not be visible) that contain any data and are wired may become the norm. Connivence can trump almost anything that would be previously thought of as "creepy".
  • Not So Smart

    So, the current idea is to do away with a separate function credit card that weighs near nothing and requires no battery in favor of a device that will weigh at least a little more, be more cumbersome to operate, will require tender loving care and regular maintenance (just like a car), and which will be subject to even more hacks, easier to implement, than the lowly credit card. Too, once the new device is hacked, it will create damage across several venues instead of just one.

    It's genius, I tell you! Absolute genius!
    • I love

      a well applied bit of sarcasm!!!
  • I don't need...

    no stinkin' credit card. I'm 55. Never had one. Not once. Not ever. Life has been good. The simple fact of all those credit-repair agencies should be evidence enough of how needless and potentially damaging the typical misuse of credit cards can be. I use a debit card for what little bit of online shopping I do, and for safety's sake it's not connected to my bank account.
  • Intelligent Card

    You should look into They look pretty secure and they use a pretty advanced card...
    Dalia Garza