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back to article Mastercard, Syniverse target holiday payment security with mobile verification system

It’s ironic that when people are abroad so many people switch off their mobile phones' data and so many banks switch off customers' credit cards. But a deal between Syniverse and Mastercard aims to keep both switched on. You’ll have heard of Mastercard but are less likely to know about Syniverse unless you work in the mobile …

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Silver badge

Yeah... right...

So if I have taken out the SIM and put a local SIM in, I get all of my credit card transactions declined as an added benefit. Nice...

The identity of the customer in this day and age is no longer the SIM - it is the phone or to be more exact it is the identity for the "Big Three" services on that phone.

Any such harebrained scheme will be reliable only if data is enabled and only if the bank surrenders to the inevitable and asks Google, Microsoft or Apple how would they like it - with hot coffee or with ice cubes. Then it will work with _ALL_ of my household phones including the ancient "spare ones" I take with me when going to the more dodgy places.

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure this is a good idea.

A lot of places I go on holiday haven't got mobile reception and I often either turn my mobile off or don't bring it with me on holiday. The other thing which worries me is the idea of my cards and phone being stolen and the card issuer saying I'm liable because the phone was with the card!

I'd also like to point out that in the several European countries where I worked on setting up number portability Syniverse was not involved. Number portability is generally a nationally organised activity so each country does it slightly differently. The Belgium operators, for example, got into a bit of a competition about who could do it the quickest which is why you can move your phone number in a matter of a couple of hours. The UK seems a bit slow compared to that.

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FAIL

I think the banks are totally over-engineering on this project. Simple changes could make a big difference to card abuse. Changes like.

Allow customers to have a pin that can be 4,5 or 6 digits long.

Allow customers to set daily/hourly withdrawal limits on the card. For instance, I never take out more than £20 from a cash machine, so why can't I set a limit of £20 a day or hour?. Attempts to withdraw more without speaking to the bank could result in the card being held.

In a similar vein have an upper spend limit on a credit card (set by the customer). Day to day, I doubt I have a single transaction ever exceed £50, so why can't I set this?. Then if my card is stolen, and the thief try to splurge out on a shiny new toy, they wont succeed.

Finally, if going abroad give the customers an easy way to inform the bank, we are going to be in country X between Y and Z.

Tbh. banks aren't interested in making it too difficult to splurge your money. When spending many months out of the UK, I received a bill for £1000 for a credit-card I had previous cancelled, in branch (and cut it up and handed it too them). Despite me cancelling the card, the bank decided not to.:/

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Bronze badge

The technology is already there

"Allow customers to have a pin that can be 4,5 or 6 digits long."

My bank and credit cards have had 6 digit PINs for at least a decade.

Which IIRC predated the Chip and PIN thing in the UK.

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Silver badge

These sound like reasonable ideas but what are you going to do when you run out of petrol hundreds of miles from home with no cash on you and out of banking hours? With a £20 limit on cash machine withdrawals you would be stuck unless you use your credit card and depending on your car even that might not be enough if you have a £50 limit on it.

Personally I'd rather my bank increase the amount I can take out of the hole in the wall because it is regularly too small for me. But I do like to deal in cash, even for large purchases like a TV or furniture.

The best idea is what my bank does already, and my previous bank also did. If my card is used outside the UK it is declined unless I have phoned them to say I will be away and even then it can only be used in that country. Takes 5 minutes and can even be done from abroad if you forget before you go.

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"Finally, if going abroad give the customers an easy way to inform the bank, we are going to be in country X between Y and Z."

One of the few things that MBNA have got right is precisely this. I just drop them a text saying when , where and how long and it's all sorted.

I'm pretty sure that my card was cloned whilst I was in a UK airport when going abroad on holiday a couple of years back. The number was used several times (though I had not attempted to use it whilst away) and the anti-fraud systems kicked in really quickly. The dodgy charges were all sorted and the card cancelled within a few hours of me getting onto the hotel and there was a nice shiny new card waiting for me when I got home :)

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"Finally, if going abroad give the customers an easy way to inform the bank, we are going to be in country X between Y and Z."

Barclays let you do this online. Which is probably why they didn't panic and send me a SMS alert when I payed the builder in cash the other week...

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Anonymous Coward

I am not interested in telling my bank where I am going to be: I travel all over the world for business and pleasure and certainly do not tell my credit card company. I expect their systems to work well enough to authorise my valid transactions and refuse any fraudulent ones. And if they don't refuse fraudulent transactions that is their problem, not mine. Why should I have to worry?

I have, in the past, changed card providers specifically because they don't handle international travel well (being told "you should have told us where you are going" is invariably answered with "you can cancel my account now"). I have now found some who handle this fine (Chip and PIN has really helped to make the card companies more willing).

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?

Phones are reported stolen more quickly because they are used more frequently... You only look at your card when you come to use it, which could be several days apart depending on how busy you are.

And ofcourse with a system like this, the thieves can just steal your phone and wallet at the same time (which many probably do already if they can).

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Re: ?

If they combine this with "find iPhone" (or a similar service for the 'droid) they will get a handy thief locator as presumably they will need to have the phone switched on for the credit card to work.

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Bronze badge

I've been to Bora Bora...

And it is staggeringly beautiful with some great shark diving (much like the rest of French Polynesia). I was also able to use both my UK mobile and bank cards without issue, and without criminal loss.

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My credit card providers regularly used to p*ss me off with this - I'd faithfully call them to say I was going abroad, "Yes, no problem, sir". My card would then be declined in the ATM at my destination, and my mobile (assuming I'd taken it) would start ringing with some t*t in the UK going "Sir, sir, your card may be being used fraudulently in XYZ country". As I didn't want to pay the hefty charge to receive an international call, I'd not answer, and that card was then trashed for the rest of my trip.

Fortunately I have several cards, and not all of them have such cocked-up fraud systems. The same provider regularly blocks my card when I try and send money abroad, e.g. through Western Union, even though I do this regularly so it's not 'unusual activity' on my account. I've tried telling their fraud team, but the answer I get is 'it's an automated system, we can't stop it even if you tell us you're going to use your card in this way'.

Guess who isn't going to get all the juicy commission and exchange rate charges for me using my card abroad? They may not even get my UK business if I get annoyed enough.

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Silver badge

Why do you still have this card?

If any of my banks did that they'd be dropped like a hot brick.

As far as I'm concerned, a bank gets up to two chances - one annoying screwup is forgiveable, two might be ok as long as they apologise and compensate properly, three is an immediate goodbye.

So I don't have an RBS account anymore.

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