Across the world, and particularly in India, using a credit card to shop online has always been fraught with danger, though you’re just as likely to have your card cloned when paying a bill at a restaurant.

Visa Europe now tries to add a layer of security for all those who are paranoid / terrified about using their credit card for online purchases. They have announced the commercial launch of their new credit card which features an inbuilt 12 button keypad, a battery designed to last three years and an alphanumeric digital display which generates ever-changing unique passwords each time you use the card.

Visa Codesure

Called Visa CodeSure, it  is designed to work on any Visa debit, credit, prepaid or commercial card and has been approved for use in the following services:

  • PIN generated one-time-passcode for Verified by Visa payments at participating merchants globally – without changes to merchant software or cardholders having to register and remember passwords
  • PIN-generated one-time passcode for online banking access
  • PIN-generated one-time passcode for telephone banking services
  • Transaction signing for online banking services, using specific elements such as Account Reference Number or amount of transaction
  • Access to third party services such as corporate virtual private networks (VPN) for commercial card users, or frequent flyer programmes and other online services.

The process of validating the transaction is done in three simple steps:

  1. When shopping online or logging in to an online banking service, the cardholder activates the authentication process by pressing the “Verified by Visa” option button on the card’s keypad
  2. When prompted the consumer inputs their PIN into the keypad embedded in the card
  3. A unique one-time-passcode appears on the card’s display, which is then used by the cardholder to authenticate a normal Verified by Visa transaction.

HSBC Security Device

I have been an HSBC cardholder for some time now and a few years ago, they had sent me a “security device”, which did something similar, by generating a unique set of digits each time I transacted online or even logged in to my HSBC account. Eventually, once the novelty wore off, it became a pain to carry around and since I rarely use my HSBC card anyway, the device is probably lying in a forgotten nook somewhere.

Likewise, HDFC Bank has something called Netsafe. You need to create an account and then each time you want to transact online, the system generates a virtual card number. You are then prompted to link this virtual card with either your credit card or bank account, for making payment to the merchant site. I tried it a couple of times, but there were too many hassles at the time, especially on Amazon, where I ended up using my American Express card. Haven’t used Netsafe recently though.

This new card from Visa promises much, but I can’t escape the feeling that no matter what levels of security are introduced, it will only be a matter of time before some hacker cracks that system too.

Till then, happy and safe transacting online! :D