4 Essential Trends in Money for your Business

By Sanjib Kalita, Editor-in-Chief, Money20/20

This article was originally published on Money20/20.

We are in the midst of seismic societal changes of how people interact and transact.  Across societies, geographies and segments, digital is the new norm. Change has accelerated, placing greater value upon flexibility and speed. Historically, money and finance have been among the more conservative and slower changing parts of society, but this has changed dramatically over the past decade by viewing money as an instigator of change rather than a lagging indicator.

Whether you are a marketer in shining armor conquering new territory, a financial wizard casting spells upon the balance sheet, or the queen or king guiding the whole enterprise, here are 4 trends about money that you should keep in mind for your business.

Platforms are the new kingdoms

Platforms are the base upon which other structures can be built.  For example, App stores from Apple and Google provide the infrastructure for consumers to complete commercial transactions and manage finances through their mobile phones.  While these companies develop their own digital wallets, they also enable similar services from banks, retailers and other companies.  Building and maintaining the platform enables services that they would not have created on their own, like Uber or Lyft, which in turn, have created their own platforms.

Marketers trying to address customers’ needs can plug into platforms to broaden offerings or deepen engagement with target markets. Platform-based thinking implies that product and service design is ongoing and doesn’t stop with a product launch.  Jack Dorsey didn’t stop when he built the Square credit card reader.  The team went into lending with Square Capital.  They got into consumer P2P payments with Square Cash.  Their ecosystem has grown through partnerships with other companies as well as in-house development.

Digital Identities open the gates

How do your customers interact with you?  Do they need to create a username and password, or can they use a 3rd party system like Google or Facebook?  Are security services like two-factor authentication or biometrics used to protect credentials?  Is your company protecting customer identities adequately?  The importance of all of these questions is increasing and often the difference between being forced into early retirement by a massive data breach or surviving to continue to grow your business.

While identity management and digital security might not be top of mind for most marketers, they are table stakes for even the most basic future business.  History is full of tales of rulers successfully fighting off armies laying sieges on castles and fortresses, only to fail when another army gets access to a key for the back door.

Context rules the experience

Credit card transactions moved from predominantly being in-store, to e-commerce sites accessed from desktop computers, and now to mobile phones.  As the point-of-purchase expanded, so did the consumer use cases and thought processes. In tandem, mobile screens presents less information than desktop computer screens, which in turn presents less information than associates in a brick-and-mortar environment.  Companies best able to understand context and deliver the right user experience within these constraints will build loyal customer relationships.

Apps or services created for a different use cases on the same platform, such as Facebook and Messenger apps, can help achieve this. Banks and have different apps for managing accounts or for completing transactions or payments. On a desktop, you can access these services through a single interface but on the mobile, forcing users to select their use case helps present a streamlined experience on the smaller, more time-constrained mobile screen.  The use of additional data such as location, device, etc. can further streamline the experience. Marketers that don’t think about the context will lose the battle before it even begins.

Data is gold

While a marketer’s goal is to generate sales, data has become a value driver.  In the financial world, data about payments, assets and liabilities has become critical in how products and services are delivered.  PayPal, a fintech that began even before the word ‘fintech’, has recently been using payments data from their platform to help build a lending business for their customers.  Similarly, an SME lender named Kabbage has grown to unicorn status by using data from other sources to make smarter lending and pricing decisions.  In the payments industry, Stripe distilled a previously complex technology integration into a minimal data set, accessed via API, to easily build payments into new digital products and services.

Those that are able to harness the power of data will be able to predict what customers want and more effectively address their needs.  In some cases, it might be using data from within your enterprise or from other platforms for targeting, pricing or servicing decisions. In other cases, it might be using data to reimagine what your product or service is.

Looking for more insights on key trends in money? Hear from 400+ industry leaders at Money20/20 USA. Money20/20 USA will be held on October 27-30, 2019 at The Venetian Las Vegas. To learn more and attend visit us.money2020.com.

This article was originally published on www.money2020.com.

Digital Wallet Ticketing

I’ve just been in Bristol at the annual Transport Card Forum (TCF) two-day event. I was on the agenda as chair of Working Group 27 giving the final report on progress. The report will be going to DfT shortly and thereafter available to TCF members via the website. I’ve been attending TCF for many years and it is impossible not to notice how very slowly things change in transport ticketing.

One piece of our recent advice to a sub-national transport body, when hired to outline their smart ticketing strategy can be summarised as: do not seek government funding to implement a region-wide (expensive) smart ticketing solution, but rather look at what already exists and how these ticketing schemes might be brought together to meet the needs of the various travelling customer types in the region. In this context, I was pleased to hear mention of software development kit (SDK) offerings from Masabi and FAIRTIQ giving me hope that the transport ticketing industry is moving in the right direction. For example, Masabi using their SDK to insert their ticketing technology into the Uber app for trials in Denver, Colorado.

A recurring theme at the event was operators reporting how PAYG solutions are proving popular with customers and how they are eroding the other forms of ticketing such as season tickets. This is an increasing area of concern for clients we are working with, most notably in terms of cash flow and forecasting but also technically. Some of our current work is helping clients deal with the array of ticketing solutions they are operating and how to rationalise these in the light of the way that the automated fare collection (AFC) industry is moving and responding to customer needs. Consumer demands will continue to drive change in their purchase patterns as flexible and remote working opportunities increase.  

It is not uncommon for a transport operator to support all of the following:

  • Paper tickets as the only medium interoperable at all acceptance points for all customer types.
  • Legacy smart card solutions based on 1990s technologies where the operators were focussed on owning the customer by issuing them with a smart card.
  • Barcodes as a cheaper alternative to smart cards that can also go paperless if delivered to mobile phones.
  • Mobile ticketing solutions based on bar code or flash pass, sometimes with low security levels and high fraud levels. Some using the ‘software only’ HCE innovations which Apple will not currently allow.
  • Open-loop (EMV bank card) PAYG solutions which have grown out of our work with TfL in 2008-14. These are intended to increase ridership and reduce costs by using the bank card in the customer’s pocket, but because they are one card per passenger, they do not cater for group tickets or for those not having (e.g. children) or not wishing to use bank cards. This could be addressed on buses by introducing a ‘retail model’, but this would require driver interaction to determine the price of the ticket before purchase and slow down bus boarding.

Operators are transport providers and their core business is providing transport services, not running ticketing solutions. The last thing they want is to be maintaining systems that have to be able to handle multiple different front ends, though many of them find themselves doing so. The classic example is TfL’s intention to switch off Oyster when open-loop was up and running, but they not yet managed to achieve this.

Our recent work with clients about how to use Digital Wallet Ticketing in a customer’s smart phone to unify their disparate ticketing solutions is proving popular.  This has been both in sports stadiums and transport ticketing. Digital Wallet Ticketing was not much discussed at TCF19, which I guess is a sign of how slowly things move within the transit ticketing community. We believe DWT is the future.

We have a wealth of experience over several years of designing and building DWT solutions. Let us know if you’d like a chat about how this might work for you, be it payment, identity or ticketing.

GDPR: Consequences, Fines and Responses

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has finally done what it’s been threatening to for a while and levied enormous fines on British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines (£183 million) and Marriott Hotels (£99 million).  While subject to appeal, these are the first signs of how the ICO now has real teeth and is prepared to use them. The question is, what lessons can we learn from this?

Well, firstly, we can observe that card payments aren’t optimised for the internet.  The BA breach looks like it was at entry point – i.e. it wasn’t that the data was breached while stored in a database but that someone managed to get hacked software to intercept payments in flight and capture the details. The point here, of course, is that the paradigm of giving your card details to the merchant so they can pass them to your issuer originated in the 20th century when we didn’t have a choice. Now, given that we have this internet thing it makes more sense to contact our issuer directly and tell them to pay the merchant. Realistically, this may be the only way we can be sure merchants won’t lose our card details – don’t give them to them.

This points to push payments a la PSD2 APIs. But given that these won’t be pervasive for a while then the next best option is to tokenise cards to either limit their use to a single merchant or even a single transaction. Both of these are areas we’re seeing lots of interest in, and ought to be high on the agenda of heads of IT security and payments everywhere.

Secondly, we can note that static credentials are a sitting target. Seeing email addresses and passwords breached opens up companies to all sorts of horrible consequential damages under GDPR – let’s face it, most people reuse the same combinations across multiple sites so a breach on one site can lead to exposure on another. Any company relying on static credentials should basically assume they’re going to get some level of breach.  

Fixing this requires two factor authentication and we have a ready-made, state-of-the-art, solution here in the EU. PSD2 SCA is about as strong an approach as you could ask for and we have banks and authentication providers drowning in relevant technology. There simply is no excuse for a company using static credentials if they get breached.  We’ve been working closely with providers to look at how to take these solutions into the wider authentication market, because there’s been a certain inevitability about the way a lot of companies have dealt with their data breach protection.

Finally, note that the point that BA have made – that they haven’t seen any impact due to their breach – needs to be quantified: “yet”. Hackers tend to sit on breach data for 18 months before using it, waiting for the identity protection schemes that are often engaged post these events to expire. GDPR allows affected companies and individuals to sue – up until now the costs of a data breach have been borne by banks having to deal with fraud and issue new cards and consumers having to sort out identity protection. The ICO fines may yet be just the be tip of a very expensive iceberg as GDPR ensures that the costs more appropriately allocated to the offending parties.

SCA: the end of merchant liability, and other authentication factors

The EBA’s recent Opinion on the elements of strong customer authentication under PSD2 was, apart from moving the goalposts on when SCA will be enforced, full of interesting information about what constitutes a valid SCA element. It closes some doors, opens others and ends any notion that merchants can take liability and not do SCA themselves.

Taking the final point first, there’s been a view that Article 74(2) of PSD2 permits merchants to carry on without implementing SCA as long as they take liability. We at Consult Hyperion have long argued that that is an optimistic and overly legalistic reading of the regulations and this has now been confirmed. The EBA states:


In addition, even if there were a liability shift to the payee or the payee’s PSP for failing to accept SCA, as articulated in Article74(2) of PSD2, this could not be considered an alleviation of PSPs’ obligation to apply SCA in accordance with and as specified in Article 97 of PSD2.

Basically, Article 97 takes precedence – PSPs (aka Issuers) must apply SCA so if the merchant chooses not to then rather than end up with a payment for which they’re liable they’ll end up with no payment at all. Which, you’d imagine, would rather miss the point of being a merchant.

Beyond this point the Opinion has lots of interest to say about inherence, possession and knowledge elements.

On inherence two points stand out. Firstly the Opinion unambiguously states that behavioural biometrics can be a valid factor: this opens up a world of possible low friction SCA, and we expect to see lots of innovation in this area. Secondly it states that 3DS-2 does not support inherence as none of the data points being gathered relate to biological or behavioural biometrics but – and we view this as important – 3DS-2 is a valid means of supporting SCA.

This is critical because the dynamic linking process behind 3DS-2 is not straightforward and there have been differences of opinion over whether this is compliant. Given that 3DS-2 appears to be the only game in town for CNP transactions having a statement that it’s OK is mighty important.

On possession, the EBA clarifies that OTP SMS is valid and also that mobile app based approaches can be – but only if the app is linked to the device. We’ve been arguing that this is obviously the case for a while, so it’s good to see this confirmed: although there are going to be a few app developers out there that need to revise their approaches pdq (we can help, of course!).

Also on possession the EBA has stated something that really should have been obvious to anyone taking more than a moderate interest in the topic – printed card details such as PAN and CVV or user ids and email addresses are not valid possession or knowledge elements. As a number of prominent industry players have been taking the opposite approach this could lead to some interesting developments in the coming weeks, particularly as the Opinion states that if the CVV is not printed on the card and is instead sent on a separate channel, then it is a valid knowledge element.

Overall, the analysis and discussion in the Opinion on valid SCA elements is welcome, if a trifle tardy. To be fair to the EBA, we don’t see anything in their analysis that a proper reading of the RTS wouldn’t have produced. However, it’s been clear for some time that many industry players have been making a highly liberal interpretation of the requirements usually based on a legal opinion. But PSD2 and the RTS are about principles, not rules: if you need advice on this you need to talk to the people who understand this stuff. Which, by the way, is us, not law firms.

The EBA blinks first …

EDIT: since posting this blog the UK’s FCA has confirmed our expectation that it won’t be enforcing SCA on the 14th September as long as the participants are aiming to comply with a soon to be announced migration plan. In the meantime it’s “working with the industry to develop a plan to migrate the industry to implement SCA for card payments in e-commerce as soon as possible”.  See: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/fca-response-european-banking-authority%E2%80%99s-opinion-strong-customer-authentication

The doom-laden headlines appearing in the press have, it seems, worked and the EBA has decided to replace the 14th September deadline for the introduction of SCA with … another deadline. Only they won’t tell us what it is, presumably we have to figure it out for ourselves.  

So, let’s see what the EBA has done now …

Firstly, they haven’t actually changed the date as they can’t, it’s written into EU law. But given dire warnings of a collapse in online payments they’ve come up with a fudge:

The EBA therefore accepts that, on an exceptional basis and in order to avoid unintended negative consequences for some payment service users after 14 September 2019, CAs may decide to work with PSPs and relevant stakeholders, including consumers and merchants, to provide limited additional time to allow issuers to migrate to authentication approaches that are compliant with SCA, such as those described in this Opinion, and acquirers to migrate their merchants to solutions that support SCA.

https://eba.europa.eu/documents/

Let’s summarise that. National regulators – competent authorities (CAs) – may work with PSPs (Issuing and Acquiring banks) and unregulated actors (merchants, consumers) to agree to delay the introduction of SCA. Which presumably means unprepared merchants and confused consumers are breathing a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, as this is now in the hands of local regulators there’s no guarantee at all that this will be applied evenly, opening up the possibility that some countries will enforce and others (notably the UK and France) will not.

On top of that, there’s no guarantee that Issuers won’t apply SCA anyway, even if their local regulator permits them to not do so. So merchants who are unprepared may still find themselves suffering random declines. And, furthermore, if Acquirers haven’t implemented the necessary changes then even if the merchants are compliant they may still have transactions irrevocably declined.

Note also the “limited additional time” clause. Frankly, introducing SCA prior to the critical holiday shopping period was foolish anyway (but was an unintended consequence of the 18 month implementation period following the adoption of the RTS), so we can assume that the date will be pushed out at least into early or mid 2020. The EBA adds (but not in the actual Opinion):

In order to fulfil the objectives of PSD2 and the EBA of achieving consistency across the EU, the EBA will later this year communicate deadlines by which the aforementioned actors will have to have completed their migration plans.

And that’s the catch:

This supervisory flexibility is available under the condition that PSPs have set up a migration plan, have agreed the plan with their CA, and execute the plan in an expedited manner. CAs should monitor the execution of these plans to ensure swift compliance with the PSD2 and the EBA’s technical standards and to achieve consistency of authentication approaches across the EU.

Basically, Issuers and Acquirers need to publish what they’re going to do including how they’re going to communicate the requirements to consumers and merchants respectively. Quite how this is all going to be co-ordinated is unclear – no sensible merchant is going to disadvantage themselves by unilaterally turning on SCA when its competitors aren’t. Issuers may take the same approach, as they probably don’t want their cardholders switching to other banks: but there’s no requirement on them to do so.

The rest of the opinion focuses on the validity of various authentication factors. That’s interesting too, but we’ll look at the implications of it another day.

The one thing this does allow is for 3DS-2.2 to be made ready. That’s an advantage to smart merchants who can at least develop a proper, low friction SCA strategy. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to getting involved in lots of migration planning.

Rail usage up, so what?

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has just made a quarterly statistical release for Passenger Rail Usage. So what?

There are relevant economic and social trends to which public-sector bodies must respond with transport policies:

  • Circa 60% of the UK population lives in cities. Congestion is a real problem which in turn leads to increased pollution and reduced air quality.
  • As a population, we travel substantially less today than we did one or two decades ago.
  • We are travelling less by car and more by train and bike. Fewer of us are getting driving licences, and we are getting them much later in our lives.

A key response to these trends is to try to drive modal shift from privately owned cars to mobility as a service (MaaS). Rail is a key mode in MaaS solutions, and Rail, in the UK, is undergoing a root and branch review which was announced by Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport in September 2018. Keith Williams is leading the review, supported by an expert panel. Amongst other things, it will look at the structure of the whole rail industry, regional partnerships and improving value for money for passengers and taxpayers. Any emerging reform plans will be implemented from 2020.

One can imagine that there are many problems to be addressed as part of this review and that fares and ticketing might not get much of a look in. However, the ‘value for money for passengers and taxpayers’ part seems significant.

In a February meeting with DfT about the future of fare collection and transport payments, Consult Hyperion was asked to respond to the recent Rail PAYG Consultation covering:

  • what a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) travel area is, and how it would work in general
  • where a PAYG travel area could cover
  • the changes to fares that could be made within the area

The consultation ran from February to the end of April 2019 and now the Department for Transport is considering the responses.

In the context of this activity, the ORR statistical release makes perhaps more interesting reading than it otherwise would have done.

 “Passenger journeys using ordinary tickets increased by 5.0% in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. This was driven by a 6.9% growth in anytime tickets. In contrast, the number of passenger journeys made using season tickets fell for the third consecutive year, down 0.4%. Market share of season ticket journeys was 36% in 2018-19, down from 48% a decade ago.”

These would seem like exactly the right market conditions for introducing PAYG on rail beyond London. Today’s passengers cannot easily predict their journeys in advance, but would like to be rewarded for frequency of travel; which, by choosing Rail, will help meet social and environmental goals. Granted, PAYG is not well suited to long-distance Rail if ticket prices are high, but there are many train journeys that are in the right price bracket.

In time, it would seem desirable to phase out season tickets. Ticketing should be tailored to the increasingly flexible patterns of work: perhaps for a specified number of days per month or the use of digital carnet tickets (to be enabled prior to departure). It would seem that smartphone apps are ideal for handling this.

Flexibility is also required within each day. Passengers travelling out in off peak times frequently don’t know until they start their return journey whether it will be peak or off-peak. In addition, designations of peak and off-peak are complex, localised and require further study.

A PAYG solution which focuses primarily on the gate line may limit subsequent progress. Mobile ticketing has an important role to play. It provides the means to offer a variety of ticket types on a single device and is comparatively easily updated. It also offers much greater flexibility for passengers travelling from unmanned stations, where gate lines don’t generally feature, and ticket machines are frequently vandalized. Another benefit of mobile ticketing is the quality of travel data that can be collected (while respecting passenger privacy).

We have recently been advising three UK Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) and recently facilitated a transport operator workshop to discuss options for fare collection and transport payments. The thing that the operators seemed most excited about was PAYG.  The kind where customers just turn up and travel without having to worry about the tariffs in advance and trusting that they will be charged a fair price. Inevitably, the discussions dipped into which technologies are good at this and which are bad, but the fact remains, they are clear what their customers want and truly believe that by giving them what they want, they will receive increased ridership in return.

Clearly, this is what Transport for London already provides and their offering is slowly extending out from London into the SE region, for example to Gatwick Airport. However, the open-payment-based PAYG models (using contactless bank cards) are limited in the amounts up to which fares can be aggregated before payment is taken. This is for reasons of risk of payment for the journey never being received, but it also makes sense from the point of view of the customer who does not want to travel on trains all day not knowing how many hundreds of pounds they will be charged at the end and they also want to benefit from any available capping of fares.

What is needed is flexibility. Open-loop transit payments are better than conventional card-based transport cards for travelling within cities. As we have said before, open-loop transit payment suffers from the passenger identifier (their bank card) being tightly coupled to just one of their payment mechanisms (one of their bank accounts). We have been exploring other mobile-based solutions with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) recently and are hopeful that such customer-centric alternatives will emerge soon.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact: sales@chyp.com

Friday the 13th: PSD2 SCA Cometh

On Friday 13th September this year, the full force of PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) comes into force. Anecdotally the lack of readiness of the card payment industry is beginning to suggest that the immediate impact may well look like the aftermath of a dinner party hosted by Jason Voorhees.

To summarise: after 13th September 2019 (yes, that’s in just over 3 months) account holding banks must require two factor authentication compliant with PSD2 SCA on all electronic payments, including all remote card payments, unless an applicable exemption is triggered. There are no exceptions allowed to this, there is no concept of merchants choosing to take liability and avoiding SCA. In the event that a merchant attempts a transaction without SCA and the issuing bank determines that no exemption applies or that there is significant risk associated with the payment the bank must decline and request the merchant to perform a step-up authentication.

Currently, the only real option open to merchants for performing SCA for online card payments is 3DS. To support all of the PSD2 exemptions – which are needed to provide a near frictionless payment experience – the very latest version, 3DS2.2, must be used. As it stands, however, 3DS2.2 will not be ready, so the initial implementation of this will be sub-optimal.

So, come 14th September this year what will happen?

Figures are hard to come by, but within Europe we believe that 75% of merchants don’t implement 3DS today. We also believe that about a fifth of large issuers are taking a hard line in order to be compliant with the regulations and will decline all non-3DS transactions. Even where the issuer is taking a more subtle approach they will request step-up SCA on somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 transactions.  On top of this, if the merchant does not support 3DS and the issuer authorises anyway any fraud is the merchant’s responsibility: for non-complying merchants this is a lose-lose-lose proposition.

Given this woeful state of preparedness there’s some industry hope that the regulators may take a relaxed view of compliance come September. Certainly there are representations being made in Brussels, but we think it’s unlikely there’ll be any relief from that direction: (1) the migration date is written into law, national regulators cannot alter it and (2) many issuers will implement PSD2 fully regardless of any softening of the implementation. We suspect that there may be some movement from national regulators since the alternative may be unthinkable, but travelling hopefully doesn’t look like much of a strategy, especially if you’re an e-com retailer or PSP.

Going forward there are a wide range of solutions being developed which will mitigate the impact of SCA on cardholders. Ultimately 3DS is not the only solution, but it is the only pervasive one and it certainly is the only one available in the current time frames.

What can merchants do to avoid carnage in September? Well, as a matter of urgency they need to engage with their PSPs to ensure that they’re capable of supporting 3DS. Given that there’s likely to be a last minute rush the earlier this happens the better. Secondly, to meet 3DS requirements they need to be capturing a range of customer data to feed into the underlying risk management processes (which, of course, needs to be GDPR compliant). And finally, they need to be working on a proper PSD2 SCA strategy that ensures, going forward, that they can minimise the impact on their customers, provide the minimum friction in the payments process and maximise transaction completion.

Here at Chyp we’ve spent the last two years helping Issuers, Schemes, Acquirers, PSPs and merchants prepare – so although the impact across the payments industry may be patchy, we know there will be winners as well as losers. If the worst case comes to pass then the only merchants likely to escape the bloodbath come September are those taking action now. And there’s unlikely to be any downside to immediate action – PSD2 has been in the works for over five years, the SCA implementation date has been known for over a year, and there’s little indication that the European Commission intends to undo or loosen the regulations.

Friday 13th is coming, best make sure you’re prepared …

Something New Out Of Something “Old”

The mention of biometric cards may be met with a raised brow or a quizzical look. But if you offer a further explanation and ask a consumer if they can see the convenience of holding a payment card with a biometric sensor on it to make a high value payment without having to enter a PIN, things suddenly become clear and are generally very well received.

UK’s Natwest, France’s Société Générale and Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo are all in the race to deliver this added convenience to their customers. The solution consists of having a physical card, with a fingerprint reader embedded in it, enabling the cardholder to authenticate themselves before tapping the card on the terminal. An interesting solution to a problem already solved by Apple Pay and the likes, you might be tempted to think.

Not quite. Market segments either left behind by or averse to the mobile payments revolution, can finally be targeted. My mother is part of that category. She fully adopted contactless payments when she visited me here recently, finding PINs to be too much of a hassle but quickly reverted to cash when she realised that contactless wouldn’t get her the weekly shop at Monoprix, by default greater than the 30 EUR limit, without the PIN accoutrement.

This biometric card offering also resolves the customer pain that is likely to hit contactless card payments as from the 14th September 2019, when the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) start to apply.

In less than six months, unless applicable exclusions apply, conventional contactless cards would, in all likelihood, need to be chipped and pinned again after as little as 5 coffees. These new biometric cards offer an edge on this issue.

Biometrics as a CVM enable, like PINs, fulfilling the Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirement of having at least two of three independent elements:

  • Knowledge (e.g PIN)
  • Possession (e.g Card Possession)
  • Inherence (e.g Biometrics)

The difference however lies in the perception of this SCA transaction. Where PINs would require lengthy Online PIN authentications in contactless or cumbersome and disruptive step-ups to contact transactions, biometrics on card offer a seamless continuity in payment ergonomics.

Moreover, biometrics are expected to be non-repudiable. Back in the days, signatures could make up for extravagant excuses like those of Rebecca Bloomwood’s in Sophie Kinsella’s ” The Secret DreamWorld Of A Shopaholic”:

I never go to Millets. […]. Some criminal’s pinched my credit card and forged my signature. Who knows where else they’ve used it? No wonder my statement’s so black with figures. […]. Someone must have pinched it from my purse, used it – and then put it back.

Sophie Kinsella: ” The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic”

Such excuses are less likely for PINs, but not impossible, considering shoulder surfing. And nearly impossible for biometrics.

The appreciation of “nearly” is key here. Fingerprint sensors on cards are not the same as those on border controls – they are primarily meant for convenience. This might sound obvious, the smaller the sensor, the less minutiae are read, the less precise is the biometric match.

There is therefore a risk, albeit infinitesimal of a wolf, someone whose subset of “8 features on a 100mm2 fingerprint sensor” being a match, going on that Millet’s spending spree. A little far-fetched certainly, when working out the probabilities.

The greatest challenge however, lies, at the very heart of the solution: Biometric self-enrolment. The enrolment procedures on roll-out have not been entirely unveiled yet. A proper enrolment procedure design is crucial to the whole lifecycle of the card, requiring a careful balance between the comfort of an easy procedure, maximum assurance that the right individual is being enrolled and well-suited risk mitigation actions. Unlike the OEM-Pays which, being based on phones, have the ability of having interactive onboarding checks, enrolment for the card form factor is not straightforward. Various solutions are being proposed, ranging from a controlled enrolment at the bank to checking-in on a banking portal, or online equivalent after enrolment. It is not clear that any one of these is the right answer for all customers.

Finding an optimal solution is vital. As Mastercard puts it, “it’s all about providing options that make life easier and more convenient, ultimately improving the shopping experience without compromising safety and security.”

Crazy Cards

Crazy Cards

The reasons behind the presence of mag stripe on cards alongside chip (and PIN) has long been a debate at Consult Hyperion. Especially for the US where things were different for years – of course now the US has introduced chip and PIN as well.

But putting numbers and signatures on cards helps criminals. There’s no need for it.

A couple of years later, in “Tired: Banks that store money. Wired: Banks that store identity” we asked why banks didn’t put a token in Apple Pay that didn’t disclose the name or personal information of the holder, a “stealth card” that could be used to buy adult services online using the new Safari in-browser Apple Pay experience. This would be a simple win-win: good for the merchants as it would remove CNP fraud and good for the customers as it would prevent the next Ashley-Madison catastrophe. Keep my real identity safe in the vault, give the customer a blank card to go shopping with.

Brazil Nuts

Some years ago, we were testing Static Data Authentication (SDA) “chip and PIN” cards in the UK, we used to make our own EMV cards. To do this, we took valid card data and loaded it onto our own Java cards. These are what we in the business call “white plastic”, because they are a white plastic card with a chip on it but otherwise completely blank. Since our white plastic do-it-yourself EMV cards could not generate the correct cryptogram (because you can’t get the necessary key out of the chip on the real card, which is why you can’t make clones of EMV cards), we just set the cryptogram value to be “SDA ANTICS” or whatever (in hex). Now, if the card issuer is checking the cryptograms properly, they will spot the invalid cryptogram and reject the transaction. But if they are not checking the cryptograms, then the transaction will go through.

You might call these cards pseudo-clones. They acted like clones in that they worked correctly in the terminals, but they were not real clones. They didn’t have the right keys inside them. Naturally, if you made one of these pseudo-clones, you didn’t want to be bothered with PIN management so you made it into a “yes card” – instead of programming the chip to check that the correct PIN is entered, you programmed it to respond “yes” to whatever PIN is entered. We used these pseudo-clone cards in a number of shops in Guildford as part of our testing processes to make sure that issuers were checking the cryptograms properly. Not once did any of the Guildford shopkeepers bat an eyelid about us putting these strange blank white cards into their terminals. Of course it’s worth noting things have progressed and fortunately this wouldn’t work now as the schemes have moved on from SDA.

I heard a different story from a Brazilian contact. He discovered that a Brazilian bank was issuing SDA cards and he wanted to find out whether the bank was actually checking cryptograms properly (they weren’t). In order to determine this, he made a similar white plastic pseudo-clone card and went into a shop to try it out.

When he put the completely white card into the terminal, the Brazilian shopkeeper stopped him and asked him what he was doing and what this completely blank white card was, clearly suspecting some misbehaviour.

The guy, thinking quickly, told him that it was one of the new Apple credit cards!

“Cool” said the shopkeeper, “How can I get one?”.

Titanium Dreams

That Brazil story was written back in 2014! There was no white Apple credit card at that time but it was interesting that the shopkeeper expected an Apple credit card to be all white and with no personal data on display, just as we had suggested in our ancient ruminations on card security. Imagine the total lack of surprise when the internet tubes delivered the news of the new actual Apple credit card launched in California a couple of weeks ago. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the new Apple Card would be the biggest card innovation “in 50 years” [FT].  This seems a little rough on the magnetic stripe, online authorisation, chip and PIN, debit cards, contactless interfaces and so on, but it is certainly an interesting development for people like us at Consult Hyperion.

The story gathered the usual media interest. A number of reports on the web reporting on “Apple going into banking” which, obviously, they are not.  Far from it. The Apple Card issuer is Goldman Sachs (it’s their first credit card product) and the card product is wholly unremarkable. The card looks pretty cool though, no doubt about that. I still don’t know why they put the cardholder name on the front (instead of their Apple ID).

Apple Card is launching into an interesting environment. The US POS is a confusing place but Apple know their stuff and I am sure that they think they can use the 2% cash back on ApplePay purchases vs. the 1% on chip/stripe to push people toward the habit of using their phones at POS instead of cards. Judging by the sign I saw in an Austin gas station, they may be right.

The Apple Card adds security, there’s no doubt about that. The card-not-present PAN and CVV displayed by the app (which can be refreshed) are not the same as the PAN and CVV on the stripe, so you can’t make counterfeit stripe cards with data from the app and Apple uses the Mastercard token Account Update service, so if you give (say) Spotify the CNP PAN/CVV and then refresh it, you don’t need to tell Spotify that you’ve changed anything because Mastercard will sort it out with Spotify. That’s security for the infrastructure and convenience for the customer.

Now You See It

While I was jotting down some notes about Apple Card, I was thinking about David Kwong, the illusionist. He gave an entertaining talk at Know 2019 in Las Vegas and I was privileged to MC his session. I was sitting feet away from him and I couldn’t figure out how he did it. That’s because he is a master of misdirection!

I can’t help feeling that there’s a bit of misdirection going on with Apple Card. The press are reporting about the card product, but it’s really not that earth shattering. It seems to me that what is really important in the announcement isn’t extending Goldman Sachs’ consumer credit business or that bribe to persuade apparently reluctant consumers to use Apple Pay at contactless terminals instead of swiping their card, but the attempt to get people to use Apple Cash. Cognisant of how Starbucks makes out by persuading citizens to exchange their US dollars that are good anywhere into Starbucks Dollars that are not, and of Facebook’s likely launch of some kind of Facebook Money, Apple are hoping to kick-start an Apple Cash ecosystem.

You may have noticed that as of now,  you can no longer fund person-to-person Apple payments (in Messages) using a credit card. You can still fund your Apple Cash via a debit card. You can pay out from your Apple Cash to a Visa debit card for a 1% fee or via ACH to a bank account for free. They want to reduce the costs of getting volume into Apple Cash and make it possible for you to get it out with jumping through hoops. Given that you can do this, you’ll be more relaxed about holding an Apple Cash balance and that means that next time you go to buy a game or a song or whatever, Apple can knock it off of your Apple Cash balance rather than feeding transactions through the card rails. 

And why not? In this ecosystem Apple would carry the float, which might well run into millions of dollars (Starbucks’ float is over a billion dollars), and if it could persuade consumers to fund app, music and movie purchases from Apple Cash instead of cards it would not only save money, but anchor an ecosystem that could become valuable to third-party providers as well. With Facebook’s electronic money play on the horizon, I think Apple are making a play not for a new kind of card to compete with my Amex Platinum and my John Lewis MasterCard but for a new kind of money to compete with BezosBucks, ZuckDollas an Google Groats.

Know 2019 Vegas

Well, Know 2019 in Las Vegas was great. Having attended the One World Identity (OWI) “KnowID” Washington events, it was exciting to see them grow and relocate to Las Vegas!

The event began with an “Education Day” on the Sunday preceding the main event. Consult Hyperion ran a couple of the sessions and we were taken aback at the turnout – standing room only in the session discussing the digital identity of people, companies and things that we presented with Mastercard and PaymentWorks (the hotel staff had to bring in three stacks of chairs during the talk!) and while we’d like to think that this is solely a reflection of Consult Hyperion’s leading position in the industry, we took it as a reflection of the increasing importance of digital identity across corporate strategies in a range of sectors.

As most of our clients are in the financial services sector, we naturally paid most attention to the presentations and discussions around digital identity in banking and finance. Mastercard chose the event to drive a stake into the ground around digital identity, with the launch of their paper on the topic, “Restoring Trust in a Digital World”. This presented a framework of how digital identity will work, putting the individual at the heart of every digital interaction. Mastercard’s commitment to the sector reinforced many peoples’ view that digital identity has gone up the priority list to become a matter of immediate concern for financial institutions, regulators and customers. The scale of identity theft and fraud on the one hand and the costs of patchwork digitised identity solutions on the other hand may not the pressure for real change is growing.

Outside the financial sector, I particularly enjoyed the keynote on the third day from Colleen Manaher from the US Customs and Border Control. She was talking about the use of biometrics and spent some of the time talking about the specific use of biometrics in airports as an interesting example of how to use biometric technologies for security but at the same time deliver convenience into the mass market.

The point of her talk, was partnerships around identity. In this case, she was talking about quite complex public-private partnerships in travel. The investments made in biometrics to allow paperless travel have obvious benefits in terms of security but, as we have found in our other work about the cross-sector exploitation of digital identity, intelligent use of these new capabilities can also transform the customer experience. The same biometric system that scans your passport picture on entry to the airport and then checks you in for your flight can also be used to direct you through the airport and implement smart departure boards that as you approach them switch from displaying a list of all flights to displaying your flight only.

The use of digital identity, as a means to provide what looks like convenience to the man in the street but under the hood provides much higher levels of security than are currently obtained through the use of physical documents and manual checking opens up new possibilities and set me thinking about how to replicate this dynamic, in other sectors. An obvious example of this back in financial services is for the kind of digital ID called for by Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, which would result in significant cost savings around the K YC and AML for the banks but should at the same time mean that customers can connect securely and quickly to their financial services providers.

We were sad to leave Las Vegas after such a great event but I can assure you that we’ll be back there again next year for Know2020.


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