Visa Wants to Track Your Smartphone

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Visa Wants to Track Your Smartphone

So does the headline creep you out? Before you get too worried you should know the whole story. Visa wants to track your smartphone so that when your Visa labeled credit or debit card is used, they can more accurately determine if you are actually using it, or if you are a victim of fraud. Sound any better now?

Banks and credit card issuers how a lot of time, money and technology invested in trying to prevent credit card fraud. This type of fraud cost banks $11 billion each year! The idea behind this premise is that if your cell phone is in the same location as the credit card when it is being used, there is a much stronger chance that you, the owner of the card, is standing there actually using the card.

If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, you can understand how this might be helpful. Visa estimates that they will be able to cut down on DECLINED transactions that are actually legitimate by 30% for those that travel. Plus, you won’t have to call your bank or credit card company each time before you travel away from home. Instead, their new software will recognize a purchase of Punitions (delicious butter cookies) in Paris as legitimate if your cell phone is also standing inside Poilâne on the Rue de Cherche-Midi. But if your cell phone pings to Downtown Dallas, purchase declined, and a fraud alert is sent to your cell and the bank is ready to issue a new card.

According to Visa, the technology will be available to banks to incorporate the tracking feature into their current banking mobile apps. So you would simply give the mobile app permission to track and report your location. Imagine if this was incorporated into a payment system like Apple Pay, where the cell phone is being used anyway, and has the added protection of biometrics. This type of system could make the plastic credit card totally unnecessary.

The investigator in me wonders if Visa will be collecting this information constantly, or only when a purchase is made. Will Visa retain this information over time? Will they market or sell this information to others? Location information, especially when associated with specific people, is a valuable commodity, and I can see that some companies would happily spend a lot of money for access to that information.

You can read about Visa’s program here. What do you think? Would you be willing to opt in?



Keith Owens is the owner and founder of Owens Investigations.



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  1. I am overjoyed to hear this. This would actually bring down credit card and debit card scams we so often face. The world is full of people we cannot trust. This move is sure gonna help. When is this going live?

  2. Apparently VISA has made this available now. Each bank that offers a VISA card has to adopt the program. Then the bank/issuing institution has to make a smartphone app and include the opportunity for the consumer to opt in. It will be interesting to see how quickly banks buy into this, and if consumers will opt in.

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