Dirk-Willem van Gulik <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:
> And you may have then noticed the interesting effect; in Germany we have
> mandatory cards - carry them round always - but virtually have to show
> them. And only to officials often.
> In the US they have no official card - yet even the lowest clerk at the
> blockbuster video asks for one...

Dirk-Willem implicitly asks an interesting question. Answering it
brings us back to security again.

Why does the clerk at Blockbuster want to see your driver's license?
Because his management has been told, by their bank, that if they do
not attempt to verify the identity of credit card users they will risk
their business relationship with the bank. Credit card fraud is far
too prevalent, DVDs are easily resold, and the bank wants to make sure
that they won't get defrauded. Blockbuster also wants to minimize
fraudulent use of credit cards (which they end up eating in some
instances) and the loss of their property (which will never be
returned by someone renting a video with a stolen credit card).

So, because of this, they're under tremendous pressure to look at some
form of identification to try to assure that the person presenting the
credit card is the legitimate owner of the credit card.

As an aside, businesses in European countries often do not operate
with the same sort of business models US companies have to deal with
in this regard. Many of them don't take credit cards at all, or only
started to in the last decade and are not yet suffering from the same
levels of fraud. In many instances, they are also legally constrained
from requesting government issued ID.

So, what is to be done? I would propose that the replacement of the
credit card infrastructure is needed. Fraud is prevalent because of a
massive inherent security flaw in the current system, to whit,
the account number is identical to the payment authenticator, and
you can make a payment merely through possession of a piece of stolen

A system in which the credit card was replaced by a small, calculator
style token with a smartcard style connector could effectively
eliminate most of the in person and over the net fraud we experience,
and thus get rid of large costs in the system and get rid of the need
for every Tom, Dick and Harry to see your drivers license when you
make a purchase. It would both improve personal privacy and help the
economy by massively reducing transaction costs.


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