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  • Thierry Spanjaard

End of 2021, still Covid-anxious, but a good year for our industry

If we look back to where we were a year ago, we can remember we were all anxious about the Covid crisis not knowing how it would evolve in 2021. Now, at the end of the year, we are still Covid-anxious, we still do not know where all this goes in 2022, but a lot has changed, especially in our secure transactions industry.

2021 will remain as the year you mother-in-law learnt what a QR-code is! A year ago, only the Chinese were totally familiar with QR codes as they were already using them for payment on a permanent basis. Now, all Europeans use a QR-code based app to prove their health or vaccinal status whenever they want to enter a bar, a restaurant, or use long distance public transport. The introduction of the European Green Pass will be remembered as the first wide scale European identity application. Not only it contains personal data, it allows to control them, but also the Green Pass is linked with an issuance and maintenance back office that allows updates on exiting Green Passes.

The European Green Pass has also made everyone conscious that a QR code might be easy to distribute and to use, for less than a smart card, but it does not bring the same level of security. The significant number of fake Green Passes is a proof of how easy it is to make a screenshot on a smartphone and use it as a valid Green Pass. If authorities wanted an efficient Green Pass control, the control app should go online at each verification and verify the cryptography associated with the Green pass generation. Also, to fight Green Pass related ID theft, it would make sense to verify the identity of the holder each time the Pass is verified.

A lot of evolutions have happened during 2021 in other segments of our industry too…

SCA, Strong Customer Authentication, is now the rule for most European eCommerce transactions. The evolution from the original 3D-Secure to SCA has not been going without road bumps, but now, one can say most European users are using it almost seamlessly and the number of abandoned carts has not significantly increased with the change. Also in the field of payment, SoftPOS, or the use of a smartphone as a merchant payment terminal, which had been expected for years are finally reaching maturity.

Among other things that happened during this year, one can name the increased worldwide acceptance of biometrics, the continuous evolution from cash to electronic payment means, the global transformation path from 4G to 5G and the always evolutionary shift from cards to apps in smartphones. And no one really anticipated the shortage crisis we are facing on the semiconductor front!

There will be more news and more changes in the secure transactions industry in 2022. Stay tuned!

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