MasterCard to boost credit card security with smartphones

Using geolocation data, the credit card company proposes a plan that will only allow card transactions when a users' smartphone is within close proximity.

MasterCard and Syniverse partner on new plan to boost credit card security with smartphones. MasterCard

With hacks, stolen credit card data, and identify fraud constantly on the rise, some credit card companies are looking into how to better beef up security.

MasterCard announced Tuesday that it has partnered with mobile technology company Syniverse to make it more difficult for unauthorized users to buy goods with nabbed credit cards. While working to heighten credit card security is nothing new, MasterCard's most recent plan is a bit different because it involves users' smartphone geolocation while they're traveling abroad.

The idea is that a users' credit card cannot be used unless it is within close range of their cell phone. For instance, if someone is traveling in Mexico, but their card is supposedly swiped in Canada, the transaction will be declined.

Lots of times credit cards are declined when people use them in foreign countries without notifying their banks they are traveling. MasterCard's smartphone geolocation feature would also avoid this issue.

Along with the amped up security, MasterCard will also offer travelers prepaid data packages in order to ensure their smartphone's GPS is turned on without incurring expensive roaming fees.

"This collaboration of two global technology leaders opens up a whole new range of possibilities for end users, ensuring a seamless payment and mobile experience," MasterCard president of Global Strategic Alliances Hany Fam said in a statement. "By leveraging the speed and intelligence of our global network and combining it with geolocation solutions, we are enabling your MasterCard to uniquely work where you and your phone are, anywhere in the world."

It seems MasterCard and Syniverse's new plan is a half step toward digital wallets, which have been on the rise the past couple of years. It appears many major credit card companies are on the path to one day offer users a way to pay for items with only a smartphone.

In October, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express announced a partnership to create a new digital payment technology that would increase the security of payments via Web sites and mobile products by using a digital "token." MasterCard has also worked on projects like the MasterPass system, which addresses all forms of digital transactions.

Currently, MasterCard and Syniverse's smartphone security plan is still in a pilot-phase; when it does roll out, it will be an opt-in service.

About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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