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Shaping the future of finance

How my bank tried to get me back from PayPal

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Coincidentally, at the same time as a bank rejected
my PayPal transactions, another one sent me the solution to my online
identity issues.  It arrived in a very nice box, and had a note that
said: "We're looking after you and protecting you."

Now one of my bank accounts (I have four) is NatWest, just in case you guessed which bank I'm talking about.  And what they've sent me is an online card reader which is part of an APACS trial. 

It looks like what they've sent me is the Xiring
smart card reader which, when you try to make an online transaction,
asks you to enter your card and PIN number.  You then get a unique code
back on the Xiring machine and enter that.  As long as the random
number generated is correct, the transaction goes through. 

The first time I saw this was in a Dutch bank back in, let me see ... ah yes, 2004.

it's here in the UK, it is yet another in the progression towards
stamping out fraud after Chip & PIN moved all of the crooksters to
seek other methods using Card Not Present crimes online.  In addition,
this is obviously fantaserooney as it solves all of my problems aired
in yesterday's whinging about why I had to move to PayPal revolving debits. 

Now, with this nice little card reader, I can get instant gratification ...

... as long as I only make transactions at home or carry this thing around  with me everywhere.  This is the point being made by many in the NatWest customer community who are already moaning
and threatening to leave the bank.  What they don't realise is that
other banks are also doing exactly the same thing, as I received my Barclays reader this week too.

Now don't get me wrong because, as anyone who knows me knows, I love Chip & PIN,
and anything to do with things that improve security and reduces fraud
must be a good thing ... as long as it's intuitive, easy and

My issue with the current methods - such as Chip
& PIN and Smart Card readers - are that they are clunky, chunky,
inconvenient and somewhat archaic.  I mean look at the Xiring reader -
it looks like a 1977 calculator rather than a 2007 design.

why not put in something like a fingerprint USB reader that can work
across all accounts, or deploy newer solutions such as Gridsure, Swivel or whatever, rather than this plasticky old thing.

that you say? Pardon?  Oh yea ... by the time you made the decision, 18
months had passed in in-depth analysis and another 18 months was then
involved in planning for the roll-out which is why it's taken 3 years
to get this out. Three years?  In 2010 three years, the iPod might have

What's that?  Pardon?  Ah yes, the iPod has disappeared, superseded by the iPhone and iTouch. 

well, I suppose that's why - as a man with five credit cards, four bank
accounts and a range of other financial products - I've now been
saddled with nine Xiring card readers and probably a few more on the

This means the Xiring sales guy must be jumping for joy
with this massive upsurge sales.  But don't celebrate for too long
Xiring guy, as Verisign
has just killed your clunky, chunky authentication system by
integrating the random number generator into the credit card.  Now,
there is something I would write home about positively.

I'm either stuck with all these little keyfobs and pads ... or maybe I
could put them on eBay using my shiny new revolving debit account with

Hey ... anyone wanna buy one?

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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