MasterCard And Intel Want To Put Contactless Readers In Laptops—Maybe Even Soon Enough To Matter

Written by Frank Hayes
November 16th, 2011

E-Commerce has been depending on the trustworthiness of strangers for a long time—customers typing in what might easily be stolen payment-card numbers from thousands of miles away. That might be changing soon, and with a real advantage for E-tailers. On Monday (Nov. 14), MasterCard and Intel announced a push to install a contactless reader in laptops, so they’ll function as PayPass readers to take contactless payment cards—with a lot less trust required.

A MasterCard spokesman, Brian Gendron, wouldn’t commit to the card brand accepting such transactions as “card present,” at least not at this point. It’s early—MasterCard and Intel expect to get all the authentication issues nailed down by 2012, with actual payments by laptop-owning online shoppers starting shortly thereafter. But anything that uses built-in hardware to close the gulf between the retailer and the physical card should help push interchange rates down.

The MasterCard/Intel effort wouldn’t be the first try at bridging that gap. The idea is something like the PC keyboards with a built-in card-swipe slot, except with a tap instead of a swipe and the improved security designed into contactless cards. That should give the laptop a much better chance at confirming that a bona fide card (or mobile-wallet-equipped phone) has been used on the far end of the wire, especially because a card brand is behind the effort.

Although there’s still no way to treat that remote laptop as a true PCI-approved POS device (if you think a PIN pad is too easily tampered with, imagine what a target a laptop that is owned by and fully accessible to a thief makes), at least hardware handshaking and immediate card-number encryption can be built in. That could wring an interchange discount out of the card brands for retailers.

That all promises to be a big improvement over the current “card as far from present as possible” mode that online retailers currently depend on. The downside: Even if the new initiative is a roaring success, it’s still only aimed at laptops that fall into one class of products—”Ultrabooks” that contain Intel CPUs. With both desktop PCs and laptops in slow decline, makers of other laptops may not be in a rush to add cost to their products so E-Commerce can get a security boost.

Then again, if enough mobile phones become contactless-capable, the cost of adding those chips to laptops could become negligible—just about the time that M-Commerce makes E-Commerce negligible, too.


2 Comments | Read MasterCard And Intel Want To Put Contactless Readers In Laptops—Maybe Even Soon Enough To Matter

  1. MonopolistAreSoPredictable Says:

    Why is Intel always trying to strike exclusionary agreements with common services?

    HD streaming – Intel monopolizing

    Credit Card transactions – Intel monopolizing.

    Gawd, Intel, the people are begging for you to stop monopolizing!

  2. Merchant Services Says:

    According to our recent new payment channel report, fraud is set to increase with the emergence of social and mobile commerce, so it is not a surprise that banks and card issuers are trying new methods to help and stop this worrying trend.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.