Smart cards are “credit card” sized plastic cards with one or more embedded integrated circuit chips that provide the memory capacity to store biometric as well as biographical information. In addition, smart cards have their own computational capability and can perform complex operations including matching a biometric sample wholly within the card. Smart cards are considered a “companion” technology to biometrics by providing a convenient and secure way to store biometric information in a portable data file that does not require connection to a central data base for biometric matching. Smart cards also automatically evoke the claim of identity of the card holder so that the person presenting the card does not have to enter a user name. Smart cards combined with biometrics provide a powerful “two-factor” method of authentication by verifying both something you “are” in conjunction with something that you “have”.
**Biometric passports: the future is now
CEO of largest smart-card maker sees strong growth
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- In the wake of the London bombings, several governments are contemplating -- with renewed urgency -- the use of biometric technology for border control.
This means companies like European smart-card maker Axalto, (FR:AXL: news, chart, profile) which provides biometric technology for identification documents and access to secure networks and buildings, are likely to see increased demand for their wares.
"Biometrics is definitely a strong area of growth for us," Axalto CEO Olivier Piou told MarketWatch in an interview in Montrouge, near Paris, just before the London bombings.
That's likely even truer now.
While research on how to use biometrics to improve border safety has been under way for almost as long as fake passports and blurred pictures have confounded government agents at the immigration counter, until recently there had been little incentive for governments to invest the enormous amounts needed for the new technology.
But terrorist attacks, in the United States, Spain and now the United Kingdom, have changed the game. And there's more pressure than ever on governments to exert tighter control over their borders.
"There definitely seems to be a rush to market. In the U.S., 9/11 was a great impetus to the adoption of biometrics for border control," said Farzin Deravi, an expert in biometrics and an academic in information technology at the University of Kent.
Now the United Kingdom is feeling the rush too.
Before the terrorist bombings in London on July 7, Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to convince parliament to introduce biometric ID cards.
The project faced fierce opposition then, mainly because of cost and privacy concerns, in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Now, however, public opinion seems to have shifted. Shortly after the subway and bus bombings, which killed more than 50 people, a poll for the Times of London found that 61% of the British public supported the introduction of the cards.
At the forefront
Axalto is at the forefront of several biometric-identification projects being considered in the United States and the United Kingdom.
So how does a biometric passport work?
The solution developed by Axalto for the U.S. features a microchip embedded in the cover of the passport. The chip contains all the information found on a traditional passport, but also a fingerprint scan; it has significant processing power and only costs a few dollars.
When a passport holder is at the immigration booth, his fingerprint is scanned by a reader and then compared with that held in the chip. At the same time, those fingerprints are checked against a database for any terrorist or criminal background.
"It's safer and quicker than traditional passports," said Axalto's Piou.
But it's not cheap.
In 2002, a study done for the U.S. General Accounting Office found that the initial cost of issuing passports with biometrics using fingerprint recognition was $4.49 billion. There was also an annual recurring cost of $1.57 billion.
Those costs include system engineering and program management, development, installation and training, biometric hardware, and also the creation of additional space at consulates and embassies.
The cost of issuing passports with biometrics that go beyond the fingerprint, and use fingerprint, iris and facial recognition, has been estimated at $8.76 billion for the United States, with an annual recurring cost of $2.37 billion. These so-called multi-modal passports are harder to fake because they examine different factors to verify identity.
Hurdles to overcome
In addition to the cost implications, other issues hinder biometrics.
Privacy advocates, for instance, are concerned the new passports will give governments a means of tracking its citizens and obtaining sensitive information.
Piou said with Axalto's solution, these fears are unfounded because the comparison of fingerprints occurs in the chip itself. "That means the information never leaves the owner's passport. No information stays in the (passport) reader," he said.
Meanwhile, biometrics expert Deravi points out that the technology has only been tested on small sampling of individuals. "At best, we don't know how the technology will perform at the scale of a country's population," he said.
Different biometric indicators also perform differently. Face recognition usually performs poorly, whereas iris recognition is believed to be more accurate.
Deravi is also concerned the technology may not be as secure as some suggest.
"There is evidence of people being able to spoof biometric measures," he said, citing the example of a Japanese professor who makes fake fingers yielding fingerprints that can fool the system.
Of course, countermeasures can be developed to eliminate such issues, Deravi said.
The problem remains, however, that if the technology is rushed to market, there may not be enough time for scientists to understand its shortcomings. That would mean governments couldn't necessarily take the appropriate legislative and technological measures to counterbalance those risks.
Contracts to be won
But for now, nothing is set in stone.
The U.S. Department of Defense hasn't yet decided to whom it will award the contract to make biometric passports. Apart from Axalto, there's only one other European company on the shortlist: German chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG (IFX: news, chart, profile) (DE:623100: news, chart, profile) .
Infineon also makes security-cryptal controllers that can be used in electronic passports. And it has already provided the smart cards used by the some U.S. government agencies for access to their buildings and networks.
Contract aside, biometrics has been lucrative for Axalto so far.
***The Smart Card Alliance Announces Opening of Latin American Chapter
7/19/2005 7:55:29 AM
MIAMI BEACH, Fla., July 19, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Americas Security Expo -- The Latin American smart card market is growing, due to many market factors including the migration of mobile telecommunications operators to GSM, the financial sector migration to EMV, the move to smart transit fare cards and new government and commercial secure identification initiatives. Responding to these market factors, the Smart Card Alliance today announced the formation of a new Latin American chapter to bring together smart card suppliers, partners and customers in order to address the challenges facing smart card deployment in the region. The new organization was announced at the start of the Americas Security Expo, in Miami Beach, Fla., where thousands of security industry leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean and the U.S. southeast gathered for the annual conference.
"The Latin American smart card market is now emerging and could develop more rapidly than other markets by effectively learning from similar smart card initiatives and by forming business partnerships that can quickly deliver successful implementations," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.
The main mission of the Smart Card Alliance Latin American chapter is in line with the overall goal of the Alliance: to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart cards. The Alliance plans to use specific projects such as bi-lingual education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums to keep Latin American chapter organization members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought.
"The Smart Card Alliance has played a valuable role in developing the U.S. market in both the public and private sector. Our organization provides an educational and collaborative forum in which all of the stakeholders - manufacturers, issuers and end users - can work together to develop the cross-industry real-world solutions needed to deploy smart card systems. Our organization is uniquely positioned to bring a collective energy and focus to this technology in Latin America," said Vanderhoof.
In order to recognize new members who are initial founding members of the Latin American chapter, the Smart Card Alliance has created a Foundation Membership Program. This program is open to any organization that joins the Latin American chapter at the Leadership Council level. Foundation Members will receive a discounted membership rate for the first two years and will be eligible to have a leadership role in determining the scope and direction of the Latin American chapter. The Smart Card Alliance is making ten Foundation Memberships available on a first come, first served basis until October 1, 2005.
To promote the formation of the Latin American chapter, the Smart Card Alliance is participating in the Americas Security Expo in Miami from today, July 19 through July 21, 2005. In addition to having an information booth (#1305) on the exhibit floor, the Alliance will deliver educational seminars on the use of smart cards in the security industry to the largely Latin American attendees of the event.
For more information about the Smart Card Alliance Latin American chapter, please call 1-800-556-6828 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.
CONTACT: Deb Montner, Montner & Associates, +1-203-226-9290, email@example.com, for the Smart Card Alliance.
SOURCE Smart Card Alliance
****Kiosks Help To Level The Healthcare Playing Field
Oct 10 2005 : Credit card-enabled kiosks are helping drug stores and big-name retailers, including Wal-Mart, CVS and Target, to gain share of the US health care market. At pharmacies, prescription drug sales account for about 68 per cent of business and this share has to be retained against competitors such as mail-order pharmacies and retailers. Kiosks help pharmacies retain customers by automating patient registration and payments at in-store health centers, while vending machines can be used to dispense repeat prescriptions both in- and out of business hours.
In-store health clinics are also the latest tactic for major retailers seeking to become a one-stop point for consumers to buy medical supplies with their groceries and other essentials. For health insurers, a patient visit to one of these clinics costs less than USD 60 on average, versus up to USD 110 for a trip to a doctor, and in some cases patient co-pay is reduced for individuals who visit a clinic. Using web-based kiosks for patient registration at these clinics speeds referrals to local physicians if customers do not already have a doctor, while electronic medical data can be forwarded if necessary.
At primary-care physicians similarly, kiosks can bring patient check-in and eligibility verification from the back-office into the waiting room. Medical providers that install kiosk networks at their premises gain cost savings and workflow efficiencies while introducing a means to securely and transparently exchange patient, insurance, payment and healthcare-related data. Compliance with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act), which is mandatory since July 2005, can accordingly be achieved by using the network to seamlessly integrate patient data.
******Contactless and Smart Cards Changing the Face of Payments
Highlights From Opening Day of Smart Card Alliance Conference
10/12/2005 10:36:40 AM
MIAMI, FL, Oct 12, 2005 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Smart Card Alliance Fall Annual Conference -- The emergence of contactless payment in the United States and the evolution to smart cards for credit and debit cards in Canada and Mexico took center stage on the opening day of the 13th annual Smart Card Alliance conference.
North American smart card microcontroller shipments will top 132 million units in 2005 and grow at a rapid 27.7 percent compound annual rate through 2010, according to remarks made at the conference by market research company Frost & Sullivan. And payment cards figure prominently in that forecast.
"We expect a huge change in smart cards used in payment applications between 2004 and 2010 and that will be driven by take-up of contactless payment cards in the United States," said Karthik Nagarajan, senior analyst for Frost & Sullivan. The new report, "Americas Smart Card Market Analysis," came as a result of a project to estimate the market in the Americas undertaken by the Smart Card Alliance in collaboration with growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan.
Chase Bank USA was recognized as an innovator in the financial sector, receiving one of the first-ever Smart Card Alliance Innovation Awards on the opening day of the conference. The award was presented for the bank's large-scale introduction of a new contactless payment feature, which the bank calls Chase credit cards with "blink." This innovation jump-started a new technology era in the U.S. payment card market, a market that has not seen a significant change in technology since the introduction of the magnetic stripe decades ago. So far, more than two million contactless smart cards have been issued.
Also receiving an innovation award on behalf of CVS/pharmacy was Jon Roberts, senior vice president of store operations. The company implemented 40,000 contactless payment terminals throughout their chain of 5,400 stores in 2005. The company made the decision after conducting a 19 store contactless payment pilot in Phoenix that demonstrated two important merchant benefits -- an increase of 20 percent in the average purchase compared to cash and faster transactions. Roberts reported an average speed for a contactless payment of 12.5 seconds compared to 26.7 seconds for other cards and 33.7 seconds for cash. "The fact that we were able to prove success in live stores showed us you could drive revenue and improve service. That's what gave us confidence to go forward," said Roberts.
Why smart cards? "No better technology affordably combines personalization and protection," said Damon Turnbull, marketing director for the Americas for Axalto, the event's lead sponsor.
The Smart Card Alliance board elected Greg Garback, executive officer, department of finance for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) as its new chairman.
While contactless cards will drive the market in the United States, migration to the global EMV standard for bankcards will play a major role in Canada and Mexico. Ron Wall, vice president for the Bank of Montreal, told attendees Canada's infrastructure would be in place by 2006 with a coordinated launch and trial in 2007. "Mitigation of fraud exploitation from skimming and counterfeiting is the primary driver for the move to EMV," said Wall. Canada has about 93 million credit and PIN debit cards. Wall stressed that the non-interchange based market model for debit in Canada made the market economics very different between Canada and the United States. "Debit transactions are 60 percent of card payments. Canadians love debit payment. Checks are used so infrequently retailers wouldn't know what to do if someone presented one," said Wall.
Mexico is on the same path and moving quickly toward EMV bankcards, according to Ignacio Lara, executive director of banking cards and acquiring business for HSBC Mexico. HSBC is a leader in the move to EMV, and had completely migrated their entire card portfolio and VIP debit customers. In total there are 45 million credit and debit cards in Mexico, with 6.5 million EMV compatible smart cards issued currently.
HSBC used the security features of the EMV smart card to create what Lara called the "world's first instant delivery credit card" called Inmediata. In the past new customers had to wait as long as 12 weeks after approval to get a card. With Inmediata, the HSBC account executive can provide a temporary card at a branch at the time of application. When approved the customer activates the card over the phone. "When customers come in for a credit card they usually have an immediate need like Christmas. If they have to wait 12 weeks that need is probably gone. Now they can have the card to use within a day or two of their application," Lara explained. He also offered impressive proof. "Our activation rates doubled from 25 percent to 50 percent in first month. This shows it works," said Lara.
As for EMV migration "the problem in Mexico is not enough merchants," but Lara said that would change soon. The liability for chargebacks for non-chip transactions will shift to small merchants on January 1, 2006 and to large merchants one year later. Also a new government program that encourages terminalization and subsidizes merchants will bring 250,000 merchant terminals into the program over next two years by Lara's estimates.
The Bank of Montreal and HSBC Mexico both received Innovation awards for their role in migration to EMV smart bankcards. The final Innovation Award went to the NFC Forum, a not for profit organization leading the development of Near Field Communications technology, a way of emulating smart cards in mobile phones and turning them into contactless smart card readers. More information is available at nfc-forum.org.
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to accelerate the acceptance of smart card technology.
Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information, please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.
Montner & Associates
Contact via http://www.marketwire.com/mw/emailprcntct?id=258F682DEB526E3C
SOURCE: The Smart Card Alliance
******New Smart Card Alliance Council Created to Inform Issuers, Merchants and Consumers About Benefits of Contactless Payments
8/30/2005 3:00:15 PM
PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ, Aug 30, 2005 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- With major U.S. card issuers beginning regional and national rollouts of contactless smart chip technology for fast, secure payments, the Smart Card Alliance today announced the formation of a Contactless Payments Council. The Council will work to facilitate the adoption of contactless payments in the U.S. through education programs for consumers, merchants and issuers.
"Contactless payment is an exciting new consumer payments technology that provides convenience, speed and ease of use to consumers and faster transaction times and increased spending per transaction to issuers and merchants," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.
The need for education about the business drivers and security of the technology was a big reason to form the Council. "This new council will form one industry voice, including financial payments industry leaders and suppliers and reaching out to involve the merchant community as well. Our goal is to inform and educate the market about the value of contactless payment and work to address misconceptions about the capabilities and security of contactless technology," added Vanderhoof.
A contactless payment device contains a smart chip and an antenna. Instead of swiping a payment card or handing a card to a cashier, consumers simply hold the contactless device next to a contactless payment terminal and the payment is quickly processed. Recently, issuers representing all three major card brands, MasterCard, Visa and American Express, have launched contactless payment initiatives. Major fast food and convenience retailers, such as McDonald's, 7-Eleven and CVS/pharmacy, have also committed to deploying new point-of-sale terminals to accept the new contactless payment devices.
The Contactless Payments Council's projects will include web briefings, workshops at trade shows and the development of white papers and case studies. As a first priority, the Council will be developing short briefings to address areas that are widely misunderstood -- notably, how contactless payments deliver additional benefits for payment transactions; what security features are designed into the new contactless payment programs; and what the differences are between RFID technology and the new technologies and methods used to implement secure contactless payments.
The initial co-chairs of the Council are Francine Dubois, Oberthur Card Systems; Wendy Humphrey, First Data Corporation and Mohammad Khan, ViVOtech. The Council will be managed by a steering committee composed of a cross section of the financial payments industry and contactless smart chip technology vendors. Steering committee participants are:
-- American Express, Gail Francolini
-- Atmel Corporation, Ian Duthie
-- Axalto, Rahul Gadkari
-- First Data Corporation, Wendy Humphrey
-- Gemplus, Ernie Berger
-- IBM, Mike Weekes
-- JCB International Credit Card Co., Julie Krueger
-- MasterCard International, Ken Moy
-- Oberthur Card Systems, Francine Dubois
-- SMART System Technologies, Inc., Michael Richardson
-- VeriFone, Rob Regan
-- Visa USA, Patrick Gauthier
-- ViVOtech, Inc., Mohammed Khan
Contactless payments in retail and transportation -- one of the most active and talked about initiatives for smart card use -- is prominent on the agenda of the Smart Card Alliance's 13th Fall Annual Conference at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay, October 11 - 14, 2005. This premier event for North America has been expanded to cover opportunities emerging in Latin America and will showcase leaders and innovators in the use of smart cards across all industries and market segments in the Americas including government ID cards and e-passports, physical and logical access security, healthcare, mobile telecom and payments initiatives, all from the perspective of industry stakeholders.
Alliance Technology and Industry Councils
The Contactless Payments Council is one of several new Smart Card Alliance Technology and Industry Councils, a new type of focused group within the overall structure of the Alliance. These councils have been created to foster increased industry collaboration within a specified industry or market segment and produce tangible results, speeding smart card adoption and industry growth.
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.
SOURCE: The Smart Card Alliance
*******Missouri Store Now Accepts BioPay; Express Mart-Arnold Is First in State Offering Biometric Payments
8/9/2005 9:55:01 AM
ARNOLD, Mo., Aug 09, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Missouri residents can now conveniently and securely pay for goods with just their finger at Express Mart-Arnold in Arnold, Missouri using technology from biometric payments leader BioPay, LLC. The service is the first of its kind in any retail store in Missouri. Express Mart-Arnold, part of a 10 store chain, chose to implement BioPay to give their check writing, credit and debit card customers greater convenience when making a purchase. An important benefit has been a reduction in Express Mart-Arnold payment processing costs.
"With BioPay payments, we are increasing convenience for our consumers while lowering our costs. BioPay costs us 67% less than processing a credit or debit card transaction, and we can pass that savings along to the consumer," says Kal Abhari, Managing Director, Express Mart-Arnold, LLC.
The BioPay system uses a person's unique finger image and their chosen BioPay number (usually a phone number) to authorize a secured debit direct from their checking account. The one-time enrollment can be completed at any merchant that offers the biometric payment service and the entire process takes less than two minutes. Once enrolled, the customer can purchase in seconds with their finger at any BioPay payment location across the United States. The BioPay service is free to the consumer.
Many retailers across the country are choosing BioPay to give their check writing and credit/debit customers greater convenience when making a purchase. As a result, retailers are experiencing a dramatic reduction in payment processing costs.
Tim Robinson, President of BioPay, agrees, "Our goal is to provide the convenience of a secure, wallet-less world where consumers feel secure that none of their personal information is being 'left behind' at the time of transaction. We also believe that retailers pay too much in credit and debit card fees and BioPay solves that problem. With low flat fee per transaction pricing, BioPay is dramatically less expensive than Visa's typical two percent fee."
With over 1.9 million registered consumers, BioPay's customer adoption proves that the time for biometrics is now. Over 1,400 merchant locations are using one or more of BioPay's smart, secure methods for processing financial and other transactions requiring identification such as payroll check cashing, loyalty programs, age verification and stored value programs. BioPay's payment service offers merchants a low-cost form of payment and gives consumers a convenient, secure and quick way to pay for purchases. BioPay's patent-pending systems for grocers, convenience stores, gas stations, liquor stores and other retailers have been implemented across the nation. For more information on BioPay and its market-leading products please visit www.biopay.com.
SOURCE: BioPay, LLC
Donita Prakash, 703-467-8332 x 309
Express Mart-Arnold, LLC
Kal Abhari, 636-464-3880
****Businesses Continue to Optimize Their Card Programs by Leveraging MasterCard Smart Data Solutions; Adoption of MasterCard Smart Data Solutions Continues to Double Annually
8/1/2005 10:05:02 AM
PURCHASE, N.Y., Aug 01, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- MasterCard International today announced that more than 66,000 businesses and over 70 issuers in 26 countries around the world are now using its proprietary web-based reporting and expense management solutions, MasterCard Smart Data OnLine(TM)and MasterCard Smart Data Express(TM). For 10 years, MasterCard Smart Data solutions have set the industry standard for providing businesses of all sizes with flexible web-based access to global transaction data that can help them optimize their card programs and reduce costs. For issuers, MasterCard Smart Data solutions have provided a proven, customizable off-the-shelf solution at a low cost compared to competitive products.
"Our booming growth -- with a customer base that doubles each year -- is proof that businesses and issuers value the information and integration advantages of MasterCard Smart Data solutions. The combination of accurate aggregated data and Smart Data's seamless integration with financial systems enables companies to optimize their existing card programs and capitalize on untapped profit opportunities," said Steve Abrams, Senior Vice President, Corporate Payment Solutions, MasterCard International.
Businesses have utilized MasterCard Smart Data solutions since 1995. "Smart Data remains best-in-class due to our continuous product enhancement process, which is focused on meeting customer needs. With almost 50 million transactions going through Smart Data each year, businesses and issuers can trust that they are getting a reliable reporting and expense management solution," said Rob Reeves, Vice President, Global Operations & Data Management, MasterCard International.
MasterCard Smart Data solutions are flexible, user-friendly and are web-based. Additionally, they offer the following unique benefits:
-- Access to global data - virtually anytime, anywhere - enabled by the MasterCard Global Data Repository, which collects detailed data from 15 different file formats and aggregates the data into a single common format. Additionally, Smart Data has the capability to import non-MasterCard payment card transactions to facilitate spending analysis for businesses that have multiple card programs.
-- Availability in 13 languages - US and International English, Spanish, French, Canadian French, German, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.
-- A solution specifically tailored for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) - Smart Data Express, which provides pre-formatted reports and easy integration into accounting software typically used by SMEs
-- Support for transactions in virtually every currency in world circulation - transactions in local currencies can be translated into a single currency for global analysis and reporting.
-- Local and centralized reporting for multinational corporations - tracking, consolidation and management of data on a local, regional or global basis.
-- Detailed data for vendor negotiations, pre-population of employee expense reports, and integration into financial systems - An example of the types of enhanced data captured at the merchants' point-of-sale:
-- Hotel Folio: daily line-item detail from leading hotel chains, including room rate, tax, room service, restaurant and telephone charges
-- Airline: trip legs, flight numbers, carrier codes for reserved airlines
-- Purchasing Card: sales tax, accounting codes, invoice quality line-item detail
-- Fleet: fuel grade, time of purchase, odometer reading
-- Car Rental: vehicle class, number of days, re-fueling information
-- Supplemental data procured from travel agencies - airline, rail and hotel data which facilitates the reconciliation of Central Travel Accounts (CTAs) and Lodged Cards.
-- Various standard and customized reports - analysis of data through numerous standard and customized reports as well as exports to other software, such as Microsoft Excel(R).
-- Feeds to ERP systems - including SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and other vendors.
-- Access to customer support - interactive guides for every level of user. In addition, 24/7 phone and email support is provided to issuers, ensuring quick resolution of customer service issues.
Functionality is just one reason why businesses and issuers continue to adopt MasterCard Smart Data solutions. As Mr. Abrams indicates, "Our reputation of innovation in business-to-business payments is exemplified by our in-house development and support of Smart Data over the last 10 years. Our long-held view that information and integration are the key to successful card programs has been validated by the global marketplace."
Additional information about MasterCard Smart Data Solutions can be found on www.mastercardbusiness.com.
German Law Paves Way for RFID Passports
By Gene J. Koprowski
07/14/05 5:00 AM PT
Critics are concerned the wireless technology used in the smart-cards could make it easy for thieves to prey on travelers by outfitting themselves with portable scanners and electronically picking the pockets of those they target. But the Germans say that those concerns are unwarranted.
Last week, Germany's upper house of Parliament, The Bundesrat, approved a bill to deploy passports containing biometric data, and the government is planning to issue the new passports this fall, clearing the way for German citizens to continue to come to the U.S. without a visa.
A resolution passed by the chamber said that the reason for embracing the new technology was "allowing the Federal Republic of Germany to continue to participate in the visa waiver program of the United States."
Technical 'Maturity' Questioned
Nonetheless, the same resolution claims that German state governments have still not had time to "verify the technical maturity of the project."
The "ePass" passport is slated to use a semiconductor that contains a digital photo of the traveler's face, and, within two years, electronic copies of the traveler's fingerprints will also be held on the chips.
"The criticism focuses on the use of RFID technology to store data on passports, concerns about the reliability of biometric procedures and the planned encryption , serious differences between the data protection standards of security authorities worldwide, the lack of involvement of the German Bundestag in the decisions made, and the lack of clarity about how the biometric data stored on the passports will be used," the German Association for Data Protection said in a statement, critical of the legislation.
According to the resolution in the German Parliament, technical objections will probably be overcome shortly. "The technical processes required for the introduction of biometrically enhanced passports have progressed to such a stage of maturity that the issuing of the passports as a routine operation can commence on November 1, 2005 without there being a threat of security loopholes," said the resolution approving the Second Regulation on the Change of Passport Legislation-related Rules, or, in the German, Zweite Verordnung zur Anderung passrechtlichter Vorschriften.
Domestic Angle Too
Interestingly, the Germans, though ostensibly creating the new passports for international travelers, also appear to have domestic reasons behind their policy. "Today's resolution is an important step towards the implementation of major advances in biometrics for domestic security, said Germany's minister of the interior, Otto Schily, who first proposed the project in June.
German airline Lufthansa said it hopes to introduce digital fingerprinting and smart cards as early as next year to help speed up check-in procedures.
Boarding passes are to be customized with the passenger's thumb print "if possible as early as next year," the company said in a statement.
Laboratory testing of the system, involving Lufthansa's own employees, began last week.
The results of the test would then be analyzed.
US Plan Under Way
A similar plan is under development in the U.S. These smart-cards, which contain wireless chips, will be inserted by the U.S. State Department into all new American passports starting later this year. They will contain up to 64 bits of memory, storing each traveler's name, date of birth, city of origin and other identifying information -- including a digital image.
Major manufacturers such as Philips Semiconductors (NYSE: PHG) , Symbol Technologies, On Track Innovations and others have entered the smart-card fray.
The technologies being contemplated are similar in function to radio frequency identification devices, or RFIDs. There are, however, differences.
"These are passive tags," said Dave Engberg, chief technology officer at CoreStreet, a technology developer in Cambridge, Mass. "That means they don't have a power source in them. All the power comes from the induction of the magnetic field generated by the device that reads the chips."
The smart-cards can't transmit data, like the RFIDs.
Another distinct difference, said Manuel Albers, director of business development at Philips Semiconductors in Foxboro, Mass., is that "the primary driver of RFID [technology] has been mainstream products -- not contactless smart-cards."
Backers are quick to note the differences between the smart-cards and RFID chips because some regard the technologies as essentially the same and they have raised concerns about potential misuses of RFID -- including electronic eavesdropping and ID theft.
Privacy rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have taken this position.
"Even while the U.S. government pushed for these new, supercharged identity documents, it blocked privacy-enhancing security measures that would have protected citizens against identity theft, terrorism and surveillance, acting over the objections of security experts and other nations," the ACLU said in a statement.
As a result, Homeland Security and other agencies tend to emphasize the term "smart-card" and avoid "RFID."
Critics are concerned the wireless technology used in the smart-cards could make it easy for thieves to prey on travelers by outfitting themselves with portable scanners and electronically picking the pockets of those they target.
But the Germans say that those concerns are unwarranted.
The smart-cards contain a digital signature algorithm -- a mathematical formula -- that makes it difficult to counterfeit other cards using the data from the original card.
The card readers have a range of about 40 inches (100 centimeters) and their efficiency already has been field tested. The government of Israel is a big proponent of the technology, and has hired On Track Innovations, a maker of contactless tags, as a primary contractor.
The Germans say that passengers who board airplanes using the smart passports can ask that once they are on board, the electronic repository of names of passengers be deleted. That will safeguard privacy , according to Lufthansa.
American Lawmakers Call for Improved Border Security, Secure e-Passports
Biometric passport would take security, travel facilitation to new level, officials say
23 June 2005
By Anthony Kujawa
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington – Lawmakers are calling for improved border security through use of reliable, secure biometric passports, urging the U.S. government to work with international partners to create a passport that incorporates a “superior” biometric standard. Speaking at a June 22 House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on enhancing security through use of biometric passports, the subcommittee's chairman, Daniel Lungren, said, “If we are serious about the terrorist threat we must work toward a superior biometric [in passports].”
Testifying before the subcommittee, State Department Deputy Assistance Secretary for Passport Services Frank Moss described efforts to incorporate biometrics in U.S. passports and shared with the committee a sample of a new passport that incorporates a contactless chip.
“Our objective in designing the new passport is to raise further the bar against counterfeiting or the fraudulent use of lost or stolen passports,” he said, explaining that in addition to incorporating biometric technology, the passport includes a host of new security features, including sophisticated artwork and new printing techniques.
At issue at the hearing was a June 15 announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must produce passports – also known as e-passports -- with an integrated circuit chip that can incorporate a biometric identifier by October 26, 2006. Prior to the announcement, VWP countries were expected to produce such passports by October 26. The program enables citizens of 27 countries to visit the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
Referring to the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to require VWP countries to produce passports with a digitized photograph by October 26, not an e-passport with an integrated circuit chip, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox said, “I’m struck by the misuse of the term biometric to [mean] a photograph in the near term.”
“That’s not a biometric identification method in my view. There is no biometric identifier connecting the person to the document,” the Republican from California said.
The biometric passport requirements stem from legislation passed in 2002 -- the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the Border Security Act). The law originally required that the government of each VWP country certify it had a program to produce tamper-resistant, machine-readable passports that incorporate a biometric identifier that complies with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards by October 26, 2004. In mid-2004, Congress extended the deadline one year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in recent months, has clarified requirements for continued participation in the VWP. (See related article.)
Commenting on the decision to give Visa Waiver Program countries until October 2006 to what he called “fully implement” the congressionally mandated biometric identifier requirement in passports for VWP countries, the Homeland Security Committee’s ranking Democrat, Bernie G. Thomson of Mississippi, complained: “Our nation deserves better than that. The Department [of Homeland Security] can’t keep telling America that it will get homeland security done next year.”
Many lawmakers were also critical of ICAO’s decision to adopt facial recognition technology as the interoperable biometric standard for passports, instead urging that fingerprints or iris scan be used as the biometric standard for future passports.
The Department of Homeland Security’s acting assistant secretary for border and transportation security policy, Elaine Dezenski, testified that digital photographs provide more security against counterfeiting than traditional photographs, noting that digital photos can be electronically stored and accessed, making it easier to verify whether the individual presenting the passport is the same person to whom the passport was issued.
“Biometric identifiers protect our visitors by making it extremely difficult for anyone else to assume their identities should their travel documents be stolen or duplicated,” she said, adding that when “properly used” the identifiers have been highly effective in verifying identity.
Asked why the fingerprints are not incorporated into the proposed new U.S. passport, the State Department’s Moss explained that facial recognition technology is “our first generation biometric.”
He said the State Department “found very very impressive results” in using facial recognition software, in its ability to match visa applicants against those with disguises or applying multiple times for the same benefit. The United States now collects a digital photo and fingerscans of all visa applicants.
Addressing concerns that data written to the contactless chip in passports might be susceptible to unauthorized reading, Moss said that “anti-skimming materials” which prevent the chip from being read when the passport book is closed or mostly closed would be placed in e-passports.
“The bottom line is that we will not issue biometric passports to the general public until we have successfully addressed these concerns,” Moss testified. “[T]he new e-passport, including biometrics and other improvements, will take security and travel facilitation to a new level.”
Dezenski called progress made toward the e-passport “a milestone in our global path to secure and streamlined travel for VWP nationals.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of our international partners and the effort they have put forth in this very serious matter,” Dezenski said.
More information and testimony from the hearing is available on the House Homeland Security Committee’s Web Site: http://hsc.house.gov/release.cfm?id=374 .
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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