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Swipeless “Blink” Credit Cards by J.P. Morgan Chase

I read an article in CNNMoney [3] today that made me cringe – J.P. Morgan Chase & Company will be offering a swipeless credit card that give holders the option of swiping or just waving their cards in front of a reader. These cards have a special chip that the card reader will detect and charge and the card holders won’t even need to sign. While it rates very high on the “cool meter,” it scares me how much credit card fraud is going to increase with the removal of several key security features.

Let’s take the low-tech route and think about these cards. If you never have to show the cashier the card, you have rendered the signature and photo portrait security mechanisms useless. When used, both mechanisms probably could stop credit card fraud in its tracks but we’ve come to expect that cashiers don’t verify either as often as they should. Also, without actually needing verification of payment (signature), could you pay for something unwittingly with one credit card in your wallet/purse while hard-swiping another? What if you’re maxed out on the “blink” card and wanted to swipe another card? J.P. Morgan Chase is going to get rich off this! I’m sure these are questions they’ve asked but… as history has shown, sometimes the most obvious things are overlooked.

Let’s go high-tech fraud then… what prevents someone from sniffing out these “special chips” and collecting a whole bunch of data? You sit there with a transmitter/receiver, a signal processor, and write up some software to decode the transmission and you have yourself a credit card collector. You fake being a reader yourself and just query one of the chips for sensitive data. It probably isn’t hard to payoff someone manufacturing these readers to sell you one (because you’re a vendor of course!)… so there you go.

Finally, what are you really saving? Time? Is it that hard or that time-consuming to hard-swipe your card in the reader as opposed to waving it in front of it? I honestly don’t think the tradeoffs make any sense whatsoever and we’re just looking at a gimmick by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. at trying to get a few more card holders.