MagnePrint Technology for Credit/Debit Cards
This seems like a solution in search of a problem:
MagTek discovered that no two magnetic strips are identical. This is due to the manufacturing process. Similar to DNA, the structure of every magnetic stripe is different and the differences are distinguishable.
Knowing that, MagTek pairs the card’s magnetic strip signature with the card user’s personal data to create a one-of-a-kind digital identifier. MagTek calls this technology MagnePrint.
Basically, each card gets a “fingerprint” of the magnetic strip printed on it. And the reader (merchant terminal, ATM, whatever) verifies not only the card information, but the fingerprint as well. So a thief can’t skim your card information and make another card.
I see a couple of issues here. One, any fraud solution that requires the credit card companies to issue new readers simply isn’t going to happen in the U.S. If it were, we’d have embedded chips in our credit cards already. Trying to convince the merchants to type additional data in by hand isn’t going to work, either. We finally got merchants to type in a 3–4 digit CVV code — that basically does the same thing as this idea (albeit with less security).
Two, physically cloning cards is much less of a threat than virtually cloning them: buying things over the phone and Internet, etc. Yes, there are losses here, but I’m sure they’re not great enough to justify all of this infrastructure change.
Still, a clever security idea. I expect there’s an application for this somewhere.