Mastercard is exploring the use of public blockchains in securely verifying payment cards at the point of sale.
According to a patent that was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and released on Thursday, Mastercard discusses a conveyance and retrieval processes to verify users’ payment credentials over a “publicly accessible blockchain.”
“A method for conveyance of payment credentials through a third party data source includes: storing, in a memory of a computing device, at least a first public key and payment credentials associated with a transaction account; generating a machine-readable code encoded with at least the first public key; displaying the generated machine-readable code,” says the abstract of the patent.
The patent continues saying that “generating a key pair comprised of at least a private key and a second public key; encrypting the payment credentials using the private key, and electronically transmitting the encrypted payment credentials to a publicly accessible data source.”
Mastercard wants to prevent credential from getting skimmed from the payment device
The same document explains that the two-way method will first encode an image of a payment card and then it will store it on the blockchain after encryption with a public and private key.
When a payment is made, the system will use the provided private keys in order to decrypt the image so that it can be verified.
Mastercard says that by integrating this system with point-of-sale devices, transactions will become more secure because the card doesn’t need to be physically presented and users will not have to be concerned anymore about their payment credentials getting “skimmed” from the payment device.
“The transaction may be conducted via the display of a machine-readable code to the point of sale device, which may further prevent skimming as the reading of such a code can be more easily controlled via control of the underlying display; the display can be easily shielded and is often obscured when in a pocket or purse,” Mastercard writes.
This marks a notable effort by Mastercard to use public blockchain to potentially improve a common issue with its card business. Card skimming at ATMs and point-of-sale across all providers seems to be around $2 billion stolen every year throughout the world.