Can a piece of plastic make online banking more secure?

Despite the best efforts of banks and security experts, Internet fraud continues to cost consumers millions of dollars every year. But a new credit card sized piece of plastic has the potential to stop one of the most popular forms of online fraud; fooling consumers or their banks into handing over information that can be used to empty accounts.

This credit card sized piece of plastic that inventor Matt Walker hopes to stop Internet fraud cold in its tracks is the PassWindow, which is a finalist in the Asian Innovation Awards.

Instead of the expensive-to-distribute security tokens that some banks use to verify the identity of a consumer, the PassWindow can be built into your existing bank debit or credit card and operates in a simple manner.The PassWindow is a small clear window on your debit card with strategically placed lines which you can see below.


Here's how it works: After providing your password to log into your bank's website, the site will have you hold the clear window on the card up to a scrambled image on the screen. A unique arrangement of lines in the card's clear window, combined with the unique arrangement of lines transmitted by the bank, will add up to a second password that you enter to complete the log-in.

As you can see in the video below, the lines on the card do not change, rather the image shown on your computer screen is different each time.

In addition to verifying your identity when you log into the bank, the PassWindow system can be used to display a unique confirmation code , the amount of the transfer and the account you want to transfer it to. Only the user with the correct PassWindow will be able to view this information. Walker hopes that if the end user sees the wrong information displayed they will be notice something is wrong and contact their bank.

The PassWindow system is in testing at five banks in in Asia and Australia but is not yet in use with actual customers or at any banks in the U.S.

With online fraud increasing year over year and criminals continually becoming more technologically savvy the banking industry needs breakthroughs like this that offer a simple solution to a widespread problem. The PassWindow demo shown below illustrates how easy this would be for consumers to use and shows it built right into an item that consumers already have with them -- there bank card. Hopefully we'll see this type of innovation come to banks in the U.S. soon.

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