Protect your card info: Credit card authentication methods


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Credit card authentication is incredibly important for maintaining the security of your accounts. There was a time when authentication mostly involved  personal information or a password, but credit card issuers are evolving new technologies to bring authentication up to speed with the times.

What is credit card authentication?

Credit card authentication is the process of confirming your credit card with your card issuer.

Traditionally this confirmation was done by entering a password or a Personal Identification Number (PIN). However, many companies are moving away from these traditional methods as they are seen as far too easy to corrupt. Instead, card issuers are using the ever-developing technology of biometrics to create authentication processes that involve using your fingerprint, voice and even a scan of your eye (called iris recognition) to confirm that you are the authorized account holder making a credit card transaction.

The use of biometric measures, like most things, is not 100% foolproof but is much more difficult to compromise than a password. In order to make the credit card authentication process even more secure, many issuers are moving to a two-factor or multi-factor authentication system. This system involves a process whereby the consumer presents something they know, like a PIN number, a key they own, like a credit card, and something they have intrinsically, like a fingerprint.

These technologies work by using sensors to scan your eye, finger or voice and make a match with data already on file. If everything matches up, your purchase will be authenticated and approved.

Some card issuers that are implementing biometric technologies include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Mastercard.

3D secure authentication

3D Secure authentication (or 3DS) stands for Three-Domain Secure. It is an authentication system used to authenticate online purchases. The three domains involved are the cardholder, the merchant and the card issuer.

When you make a purchase online using 3DS, you will be sent from the merchant’s website to your credit card issuer’s website to authenticate. Once on the issuer’s site, cardholders are asked to enter a password or authentication code. The correct information will trigger the approval of the purchase.

The process is quick and seamless. Not to mention, it adds an extra layer of security against fraudulent transactions by tapping into the card issuer’s secure authentication system. 3DS was spearheaded by Visa and is also used by Mastercard and American Express.

Authentication for mobile payments

More and more people are using their cellphones to make purchases through platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Payments made from mobile devices use radio frequency identification to process transactions. These payments are attached to digital wallets that have complex encryption integrated.

Apple Pay uses fingerprint recognition to add a layer of authentication before finalizing a transaction and also offers the option of FaceID. You can authenticate your purchases through FaceID by simply looking into your iPhone.

You can add fingerprint authentication to your Google Pay or Samsung Pay account by going into your account settings. Samsung Pay also offers the option of adding an iris scan. Other methods of authentication for mobile payments include a username and password, time-sensitive passwords or screen patterns. Multi-factor authentication may also be employed for mobile payments to make them even more secure.

Authentication on mobile credit card readers

Mobile card readers are making it possible for you to use your plastic almost anywhere. Whether you are at a music festival or buying jewelry at an artisan market, mobile card readers make it possible to pay with your credit card or phone.

Mobile credit card readers process your card payment by using a processing app or service. Card readers require your card or phone as a part of the authentication. If using a card, cards with chips are the most secure when making purchases with a mobile reader. Once you’ve presented your card or phone, you may be asked to enter your PIN or give a signature for further authentication. Newer card technologies and most mobile payment apps also incorporate some biometric authentication such as a fingerprint.

Bottom Line

As technologies evolve, so will the way we spend our money. We are moving more and more towards a cashless society, which means that secure authentication processes are imperative.

Credit card companies are taking up the charge to make sure that fraudulent purchases become a thing of the past through cutting edge authentication systems.