Feeds

Boffins test voice-activated secure credit card

Give me the bl**dy money!

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Boffins have developed a credit card that works only when it hears its owner's voice.

A prototype card from Santa Monica, California-based Beepcard comes with a built-in voice recognition chip, miniature battery, microphone and speaker.

To operate the card a user would need to press a button on the card's surface and provide a password. If the in-built voice recognition technology authenticates this voice then it emits an variable audible squawk, which a merchant's server can recognise and thereafter allow a transaction to proceed. The system would allow merchants to establish a customer has a card and is the authorised user for customer not present transactions, a notorious source of credit card fraud.

The technology is based on a refinement of a non-voice activated version of the card (which could only establish that a person had a credit card; it still might be stolen). In the case of both old and new technologies the audible signal from a card differs according to a preset order known by the server, but unfathomable to crooks. The principle is the same as that used by two-factor authentication devices commonly used for authenticating remote access.

Although two-year battery life isn't a problem with the prototype card (whose circuit is only switched on when its button is depressed), size is more of a challenge. The prototype card is three times the size of a regular credit card. Also merchants would have to support Beepcard's technology.

Visa, which already makes some use of voice recognition technology on telephone calls, is cautiously enthusiastic about the idea. "It's an interesting idea but the transaction has got to be user friendly. You wouldn't want to increase the time it takes," Visa spokesman Colin Baptie told New Scientist.

Respected security expert Bruce Schneier is far more enthusiastic. ""It's a physical authentication system that doesn't require any special reader hardware. You can use it on a random computer at an internet cafe. You can use it on a telephone. If the price is cheap enough, Beepcard has a winner here," he writes in his monthly Cryptogram newsletter. ®

Related stories

UK credit card fraud down 8%
Retailers must embrace Chip and PIN. Or else
Anti-fraud scheme saves retailers £2m
Online fraud, ID theft soars
Shoppers warned of £110m card not present fraud
Opera browser to recognise speech
Insurer taps voice analysis tech to detect fraud

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.