No more virtual pickpocketing of credit cards, thanks to new tap and pay technology

Feb 17, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- With technology has come ease. These days, thanks to near-field communications (NFC) and radio frequency identification (RFID), consumers no longer have to swipe credit cards through an interrogative machine—they are able to simply wave their credit cards to make purchases or withdraw money from their bank accounts.

Such ease, however, also has brought with it theft and fraud. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have come up with a method to improve security through a new credit card design that allows a card to turn “on” and “off.”

RFID tags and NFC credit cards are currently enabled to operate any time they’re placed in an electromagnetic field. However, that can be dangerous, says Marlin Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Engineering and executive director of the RFID Center for Excellence in the Swanson School. That’s because portable readers are now available for less than several hundred dollars, making it possible for thieves to simply pass a reader near an NFC credit card and charge purchases to it or extract cash from a bank account. 

“Our new design integrates an antenna and other electrical circuitry that can be interrupted by a simple switch, like turning off the lights in the home or office,” says Mickle. “The RFID or NFC credit card is disabled if left in a pocket or lying on a surface and unreadable by thieves using portable scanners.”

With this new technology, would simply hold RFID or NFC in a specified area—for example, on an emblem or some other identifying mark—when making a transaction. As long as the “switch” is held, the card is turned “on.”  When returned to a wallet or purse and tactile contact is discontinued, the card automatically turns “off.”

“This solution is simple and very inexpensive to integrate into the RFID and NFC credit card manufacturing process,” Mickle says. “We have filed a patent application and hope to see the technology quickly adopted, once approved.”

Explore further: Innovative new supercomputers increase nation's computational capacity and capability

Provided by University of Pittsburgh

3.3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pitt, ADCUS, Inc., produce customized active RFID tags

Jun 28, 2005

Result will enable companies to tailor tags for their own purposes In his keynote address at today's "RFID: Hype, Reality, and Hope" conference, hosted by the Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence in Pitt's School of E ...

Credit card hacker sentenced to 10 years in prison

Jul 23, 2011

Rogelio Hackett, who stole more than half a million credit card numbers used to rack up nearly $40 million in illicit debt, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison and fined $100,000.

New banking bureaucracy may not help consumers

Jul 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- There's a better way to help banking customers than the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that opened for business July 21, says a banking expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

Recommended for you

Forging a photo is easy, but how do you spot a fake?

Nov 21, 2014

Faking photographs is not a new phenomenon. The Cottingley Fairies seemed convincing to some in 1917, just as the images recently broadcast on Russian television, purporting to be satellite images showin ...

Algorithm, not live committee, performs author ranking

Nov 21, 2014

Thousands of authors' works enter the public domain each year, but only a small number of them end up being widely available. So how to choose the ones taking center-stage? And how well can a machine-learning ...

Professor proposes alternative to 'Turing Test'

Nov 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —A Georgia Tech professor is offering an alternative to the celebrated "Turing Test" to determine whether a machine or computer program exhibits human-level intelligence. The Turing Test - originally ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.