Visa and MasterCard: HCE Can be as Secure as Secure Elements

NFC Times Exclusive: While continuing to support their applications on secure elements in NFC phones, Visa and MasterCard Worldwide confirmed their firm support for host-card emulation the past week, as they continue to fast-track new HCE specifications to the market.

Representatives from the two largest global payment networks, in interviews at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with NFC Times, contend that banks or other issuers rolling out Visa payWave or MasterCard PayPass using HCE could expect as much security as if they used NFC SIM cards or other secure elements–as long as the banks followed the specifications the payment schemes have introduced or are drafting. 

That includes using tokens on the phones in place of card credentials as part of “multiple layers” of security for the cloud-based applications. 

Some banks, particularly in Europe, along with, predictably, suppliers of secure elements and TSMs, and some other industry experts, question whether HCE implementations could reach the level of security of NFC SIMs and other smart card technology, which has been honed for nearly 20 years for open-loop payments. They also cast doubt on the maturity of HCE. 

But what is becoming increasingly clear is that the major established payment networks, facing threats to their business from over-the-top players–and growing pressure from many of their own banking customers to provide mass-market mobile-payment products–are embracing HCE as a viable option. 

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Among Topics Covered:

  • More details on host-card emulation specifications coming from Visa and MasterCard
  • Views of Visa and MasterCard on security of HCE compared with secure elements.
  • Tokenization as key part of the payment schemes’ plans for HCE
  • Options for loading tokens on NFC SIMs
  • New details about deal between MasterCard and Weve
  • Security questions remain regarding HCE
  • Range of options for NFC rollouts

Sources Quoted:

James Anderson, group head, emerging payments, MasterCard
Sam Shrauger, SVP, digital, developed markets, Visa
Brad Greene, VP, mobile products, Visa
Jorn Lambert, group executive, digital convergence, MasterCard
Linda Mantia, EVP, cards and payments solutions, Royal Bank of Canada
David Sear, CEO, Weve
Brian Byrne, director of operations, EMVCo
Michael Gargiulo, consultant, TNG Technologies
Jordi Guaus, head of mobile payments, CaixaBank. 

Among companies and organizations mentioned:

Visa
MasterCard Worldwide
Royal Bank of Canada, RBC
Weve
EMVCo
Bankinter
CaixaBank

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