19 February 2018
visit www.ebaday.com

Researchers tap quantum physics for fraud-proof credit cards

16 December 2014  |  11286 views  |  3 light bulbs

Forget chip and PIN, Dutch researchers claim to have harnessed the power of quantum mechanics in a way that could be used to make card fraud a thing of the past.

In a paper posted in journal Optica, the team outline how the peculiar quantum properties of photons, that allow them to be in multiple locations at the same time, can be used to authenticate a physical "key" through a Q&A exchange.

The idea is to coat an area of a payment card with a thin layer of white paint containing millions of nanoparticles. Then a laser could project individual photons of light into the paint where they would bounce around the nanoparticles "like metal balls in a pinball machine" until they escape back to the surface, creating the pattern used to authenticate the card.

A bank sending a pattern of single quantum photons into the paint, would see a reflected pattern that would appear to have more information - or points of light - than the number of photons projected. Any attacker attempting to intercept the “question” would destroy the quantum properties of the light and capture only a fraction of the information needed to authenticate the transaction.

Says the paper's lead author, Pepijn Pinkse from the University of Twente: "It would be like dropping 10 bowling balls onto the ground and creating 200 separate impacts. It’s impossible to know precisely what information was sent (what pattern was created on the floor) just by collecting the 10 bowling balls. If you tried to observe them falling, it would disrupt the entire system."

Quantum-Secure Authentication could be employed in numerous situations relatively easily, since it uses simple and cheap technology -- such as lasers and projectors -- that is already available, he says.


Comments: (3)

Stephen Wilson
Stephen Wilson - Lockstep Group - Sydney | 16 December, 2014, 11:45

OMG. If credit card fraud was a really really difficult problem to solve, then it might merit the application of unproven quantum mechanical engineering. But it's not and it doesn't.  

Digitally sign a transaction using a private key secreted inside a tamper-resistant chip, and Card Present is made reasonably secure.  That's Chip-and-PIN. Do the same thing for Internet transactions, using a private key in a networked chip like an RFID card or smart phone Secure Element, and Card Not Present fraud would also be manageable. 

See http://lockstep.com.au/blog/2014/03/26/uniform-approach-cnp. 

2 thumb ups! 2 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Chris Yaldezian
Chris Yaldezian - IBM (Software Group) - San Ramon | 16 December, 2014, 17:57

And, we are assuming the consumers will trust something that they don't understand?

1 thumb up! 1 thumb up! (Log in to thumb up)
Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - FIS Payments Software and Services India - India | 22 December, 2014, 12:44

This is good development. Recently, MasterCard demonstrated Finger print scanner emedded cards for biometric authentication. Use of Quantum physics can be extended to protect counterfeit of currency notes ( assuming cash survive for next decade or more :))

Only issue is commerical viability and adoption to be watched on this space.

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Comment on this story (membership required)

Finextra news in your inbox

For Finextra's free daily newsletter, breaking news flashes and weekly jobs board: sign up now

Related blogs

Create a blog about this story (membership required)
visit www.ebaday.comVisit www.vasco.comvisit www.swift.com/your-needs/instant-payments

Top topics

Most viewed Most shared
Saudi central bank provides sandbox for banks to try out Ripple techSaudi central bank provides sandbox for ba...
11293 views comments | 16 tweets | 12 linkedin
ABN Amro moves escrow accounts to the blockchainABN Amro moves escrow accounts to the bloc...
8850 views comments | 15 tweets | 13 linkedin
ECB launches staunch defence of cashECB launches staunch defence of cash
8741 views 10 comments | 22 tweets | 26 linkedin
Aussie real-time payments platform goes liveAussie real-time payments platform goes li...
8715 views comments | 15 tweets | 43 linkedin

Featured job

London, UK (or flexible)

Find your next job