Reimagining The Credit And Debit Card


With the inherent risks and vulnerability in using credit and debit cards, the need for a better improved method of transaction is required. Last year on October 19th, the country’s largest banking network, State Bank of India (SBI) blocked 6 lakh debit cards, furthermore nearly 32 lakh debit cards from 19 banks including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank were blocked. The aftermath resulted in the loss of Rs. 1.3 crore in fraudulent transactions and over 90 ATMs were compromised, reported the National Payment Corporation of India.

Apart from the security concerns, the current system of debit and credit cards uses a simpleton system of a 16 digit number, expiry month and year, CVV (Card Verification Value) and the cardholder name. All this information is visible to common eye and may be misused on international payment gateways, as they do not enforce a second factor-of-authentication. This scares the cardholder in handing over the card to a merchant; where the card is likely to be out of sight. Thus in order to make the card-usage safer, it is advisable that all these details are encrypted in a more secure form using a QR code.

QR stands for Quick Response Code and is a 2D barcode that provides information using a scanner. Using a QR code, the credit or debit card can be scanned and the practise of the card being inserted or swiped may be eliminated. Moreover using a QR code eliminates the fear of handing the card over to the merchant and the details of the card being compromised. As a second line of defence, the user can choose between using a PIN (Personal Identification Number) or OTP (One Time Password) for authentication.

Alternatively, the CVV concept could now be scrapped. It should NOT be printed on the card and should be asked from the user each time the card is used either at EDC or online.

Card safety issues have made companies realise these threats and come up with a revolutionary step that can reshape the use of credit and debit cards while retaining the overall dimension of the credit card. This can be done by replacing the 16 digit number with a QR code coupled with a Unique ID for the card, on the front side of the card. For more convenience, there will also be a chip so that the same card can also be read using a chip and pin reader.

Since all the complex data is stored using the QR code and the chip, the CVV and the signature can be removed. Instead, this side of the card can have details such as names, contact details of the bank and other information about the card. Additional information can include a photograph of the card holder. These changes don’t necessarily mean that the card can only be used in the digital world; it can still be used in both digital and the offline world just like the current cards. For using the card with a chip reader, simply insert the card into the card reader and enter the PIN for authentication. Another method of using the card would be by using the QR code scanner by placing the QR code before the scanner for authentication either by entering the PIN or the OTP.

Using credit and debit cards for online payment is the most talked about subject when it comes to security and safety. Entering the conventional 16 digits, expiry month and year, and the CVV and name increases the chances of compromising on security. This can be eliminated by using the Unique Code or by using the QR code when the payment page invokes the device’s camera in case of portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

QR code based cards can radically transform the ease of payments and also help reduce the capital/operational expenses of merchants, and most importantly revamp the security.