By: Scott Magnacca
OpSec Security participated in the Cartes Asia conference and exhibition in late March. Held annually in Hong Kong, this was our first appearance at the show under the OpSec banner after the acquisition last year of JDSU Holographics. One of the first things that you notice about this show is the weight given to the future of our payment system and how the use of mobile devices will provide opportunities to enhance the customer experience. While we may be used to our ability to make payments by cards in the developed world, there are still hundreds of millions of people who don't have access to the same kind of payment system we do.
In rural India or China, mobile phones can take the place of both a card and a payment terminal to process micro-payments, small, one-time transactions that are mostly paid in cash. This method provides a simple and secure way to transfer cash. For much of the world, however, cards are still the main form factor used to process a transaction. That is not to say that mobile payments are not on their way. If you define mobile payments as anything you do with a phone, bill paying would certainly qualify as a form of mobile payment. Some of us have probably used a tablet or smart phone to log on to our bank and make a bill payment. This is a form of mobile payment.
The focus at Cartes was predominantly the use of the mobile phone to make a payment to a merchant in a way that either either replaces or enhances the card. Exhibitors ranged from network security providers, to software developers to device manufacturers that turn your phone into a chip or magnetic stripe point-of-sale device. At OpSec, we know that the future is mobile but that the card is an integral part of the present and future--and that our work is critically important in protecting and enhancing the card brands and card itself through security holographic devices. Our products remain an integral part of the security and branding of cards for organizations like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners and Discover. And the future of cards remains bright. New payment options such as debit cards, prepaid cards and gift cards are growing in share and profile, providing new opportunities for our security solutions.
In fact, I gave a presentation at Cartes Asia on the topic: "Owning your Future. What you can do to Secure your Future in a Rapidly Changing Transaction Market". This presentation was designed to show that companies like OpSec who are in the current security ecosystem for cards can influence their future by taking action now in understanding the role cards will play in the future payment system. In doing so a company can build a roadmap that continues to make it relevant to a changing market. It is important to understand where we are today and what the market dynamics are. The market is currently in chaos as innovations continue, but are these innovations in search of a problem or are they solving a problem that exists today? I argued that for many consumers the use of cards in a terminal is not a friction point; it works everywhere and is reliable and secure. Major banks in the United States are betting billions of dollars that cards are relevant and secure and provide a great customer experience by rolling out chip cards to every US cardholder over the next few years. These chip cards based on the EMV Standard (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) will provide for enhanced security by having customers enter a pin number much like a debit card. And guess what else will be on the card to enhance the security and brand? That's right, a security hologram from OpSec!