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Mastercard Sees Other Banks Ditching Card Numbers Like Apple

Jennifer Surane, reporting for Bloomberg*:

This week, Apple Inc. introduced the Mastercard Inc.-branded Apple Card, which won’t have a number on the physical card as a way to improve security in case a customer loses it. That could encourage other banks to also ditch the static number in favor of more secure limited-use numbers, said Craig Vosburg, president of North America for Mastercard.

“We want security to be at the highest level possible across the ecosystem, and we want to do that in ways that don’t introduce friction and make payments inconvenient for consumers,” Vosburg said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg Television.

As someone who had his card number stolen a few months ago, I appreciate this. Those static card numbers are archaic. It sounds like Apple is pushing the whole industry forward here. But occasionally I still buy things that require me to read my card number over the phone. How will that work with Apple Card? [Update: I was a bit dim on this question. The Apple Card in your Wallet app will have a number, expiration date, and CVV — unique per device. It’s best to think of the card in Wallet as the “real” or canonical card, and the physical card as an alternative representation of the card.]

On the design front, I saw some mockery of Apple’s emphasis on the design of the physical card — laser-etched titanium, etc. I wouldn’t laugh at that — if you’re going to carry something around with you, it should be beautiful. Of course Apple Card is cool-looking. It would be disturbing if it weren’t.

* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019