Can I see your ID?

credit_card_transaction_paul_burns18 March 2015


A major retailer just called me this AM. Theme of conversation is that the industry is creating a “perfect storm” for issuers in acceptance.  While LoopPay is very secure (because of Visa/MA tokens, phone ID, and transaction counters), the existence of a commercial grade mag stripe emulator in the hands of “bad guys” will create a little chaos… particularly when the cashiers think nothing of consumers (or fraudsters) waving their phones at the POS.

While both Visa and Mastercard have set rules that prohibit merchants for asking for IDs in a contactless EMV transaction (EMV), LoopPay (Samsung calls it MST) muddies the waters as it uses the phone to talk to the magnetic reader of the payment terminal. MST transactions are magstripe transactions which merchants are (and have always been) allowed to ask for IDs. Merchants can make the case that they have no idea which is which, and they have no way of “prohibiting” either, thus they must assume that it requires them to treat as something that requires them to validate (signature).

Let me see if I can list the different acceptance methods (looking for input into what I miss)

Acceptance Options


Add to this list Token authority (Tier 1, Tier 2, Visa, Mastercard, TCH, Bank, …) and TSM for GSM style NFC and we have quite a complex mess. The good news is that issuers have control over where their cards are presented.. Problem is that there are many new “exploits” which can be attacked by very well funded fraudsters.

Normally, all of this seems to put pressure to update and lock down your payment terminals. But merchants don’t bear any costs for POS fraud where they have validated signature/ID… it moves to the banks. How can Banks force merchants to lock down terminals? The incentives are very complex.. so complex that it may mean “can I see your ID” happens in every case.  So much for mobile making things easier.

In EMV transactions, issuers are normally in control of when PIN is required.. In mobile  there is no physical payment instrument (card)  for the cashier to validate signature … so when they ask for ID what do they validate against? (ie no embossed card with your name on it). This means issuers will naturally like PIN for mobile. In the US consumers don’t know their PIN (for credit cards)..

This is just too confusing.. lets just say small issuers will have a very challenging time adapting here, while the big issuers will maintain a substantial advantage. This is the normal course of [big] bank fraud strategy:  if a bear comes to your campsite you don’t have to be faster than the bear.. just faster than the slowest fellow camper (small banks)