Working to make mobile payment more secure


December 19, 2014

Consumers are well aware of several recent security breaches regarding the credit and debit cards they use on a daily basis: Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and more.

Gail-Joon Ahn, an Arizona State University engineering professor, is working on tools that will make transactions more secure and allow individuals to control the privacy of their information. In 2014 he was issued five new patents for that technology and eight more patents are pending related to secure mobile payment. working to make mobile payment more secure Download Full Image

Ahn is a Fulton Entrepreneurial Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“When you disclose your identity, you disclose all kinds of information,” Ahn said. “Your ID, your username, your credit card number, driver’s license number and all kinds of other personal attributes.

“You’ve given that information to the bank, but once disclosed, you don’t know how it’s being used or have any ability to control it.”

Through the technology Ahn is designing, an individual would give the information to the bank and, when he or she wanted to purchase something, the retailer would send an invoice that would be routed to the bank and paid, without the buyer giving any information to the retailer.

The individual also would be able to set privacy parameters on their cards, say allowing one-time use only, or no release of specific types of information, like their address.

“ID theft is the biggest problem retailers have,” Ahn said. “Studies show they are losing $3 billion per year in ID theft. And the loss to their reputations is priceless.”

Through Ahn’s technology, the retailer wouldn’t have any of the information, reducing the potential for it being stolen.

“We’re used to the way we’ve done it in the past,” Ahn said. “For example, my son rents a musical instrument, and we’re charged for it each month. The company keeps my charge card on file and reuses it each month.

“I trust them. That’s the normal practice, and it’s convenient for them and for me.”

We’re even using credit cards in parking meters, and when those meters are upgraded and the old ones sold, our information goes with them, Ahn said.

Because of security issues, we should be using new payment technology, Ahn said.

You go to Starbucks and order coffee. You give them your order and their invoice would be routed to your bank, which ships the payment to Starbucks. Starbucks would never have the number of your credit card.

Ahn said his team is currently testing a demo of the technology. Their competitors: Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

“People realize how important it is to protect their identity and information,” Ahn said.

Written by Judy Nichols

Sharon Keeler

associate director, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-727-5618