Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, through its Smart Card technology and electronic transactions unit CP8 Transac SA, is developing a Smart Card reader for the home personal computer and laptop markets, that will enable electronic transactions over the Web. The technology is being developed to accomodate trade involving small payments. Called the Smart PIN Pad, […]
Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, through its Smart Card technology and electronic transactions unit CP8 Transac SA, is developing a Smart Card reader for the home personal computer and laptop markets, that will enable electronic transactions over the Web. The technology is being developed to accomodate trade involving small payments. Called the Smart PIN Pad, the card reader will comprise a liquid crystal display screen and keypad. The user will connect it to the serial port of the desktop computer; the laptop version will connect via the PC Card slot. According to Alain Sigaud, CP8 Transac’s director of security systems, purveyors of the Europay Mastercard Visa – EMV – standard are insisting on a small keypad and display unit to work independently of the desktop, in contrast to a personal computer-based technology, such as the electronic wallet software from the likes of CyberCash Inc, to avoid capture of PIN codes by a rogue server. The reader will be able to read bank debit and credit cards, electronic purse cards, and charged cards such as phone cards, Visa and Mastercard and Groupe Special Mobile cards. Customers will connect to the retailer’s Web server from their machines and select a payment – credit or debit – option. The transaction is then routed to the retailer’s payment server, which checks the card’s Personal Identification Number, as would be the case with a face-to-face transaction, as well as implement further medium-specific controls, such as on-line authentication of digital signatures and certificates that will have been issued to the customer. The payment server will in turn forward details of the transaction to the retailer’s bank, using the same interface as an electronic point of sale terminal. The Smart Pin Pad, according to Sigaud, will be available at the end of the year, priced at around $64. To ensure the security of Smart Card-based transactions over the Web however, the technology will need to go beyond the Secure Electronics Transaction – SET – protocol, and this has given rise to differences of opinion between the protocol’s advocates and the French banking fraternity. Sigaud said that both the backers of SET and a consortium of French banks are now working on separate extensions of the protocol for the Smart Card. However he maintained that the hardware implementation was not dependent on either. Bull itself is part of the PC/SC consortium, formed recently by Smart Card and personal computer vendors to develop technology to define and manage Smart Cards in new Microsoft environments, namely Windows NT 4.0. Sigaud insisted that the card technology would not be locked in to Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer as a result. The environment is not related to the application. It is synonymous with different printers being able to run with different computers. Other members of the consortium are Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard Co, Schlumberger SA’s Electronic Transactions division and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG.