MasterCard's new chip club

Even though Visa and MasterCard are pilot testing various contactless smart card systems, it seems that MasterCard is already thinking of the next generation of secure payment systems for us all.

The card company has just launched its OneSmart Club, a program to help card issuers develop new payment products and services using the latest chip technology.

The club, which has already been successfully operating in Australasia, has just been launched in the Europe and Middle East region at the Park Hyatt hotel in Dubai where more than 50 delegates from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman were present.

Speakers included Dave Taylor from Barclaycard in the UK and Ina Stander from South African bank, Capitec, both of whom recently launched added-value EMV chip-based projects.

One of the most interesting features of MasterCard's OneSmart technology is the ability for cardholders to be pre-authorised for smaller value purchases.

The idea behind the MasterCard M/Chip Pre-Authorised Payment (MPA) is that customers can make small value purchases up to a pre-defined limit, without the retailer going online.

The problem with MPA, however, says MasterCard, is that the transaction processor needs to work hard o ensure much higher levels of card security than currently seen in the marketplace.

Other technologies in the pipeline, meanwhile, include the OneSmart MasterCard Web, an open data storage system that allows cardholders to securely store and manage a wide range of personal data (such as names, addresses, URLs, log-on passwords) on their smart chip card.

The idea is that cardholders will have a credit or debit card that can be used both offline and online, as well as a contactless basis, and even for small value transactions on a pre-authorised basis.

Impressive stuff. Just make sure you don't lose the card...