One service provider is taking the lead in not waiting to find out, by creating quantum-resistant specifications for the industry.

While quantum computing is still quite some years away from mass accessibility and usage, there is certainly a risk that hackers can get a head start with some form of the technology to break contactless e-payment systems.

Already, in the third quarter of 2020, contactless payment systems penetration represented 41% of in-person purchase transactions globally, up 30% from a year ago, according to sources.

Some payment service providers are wasting no time to researching improvements to their products to become ‘quantum-resistant’. Case in point: Mastercard has announced it is in the process of developing the next generation of contactless payments so that consumers continue to enjoy high levels of security and convenience for decades to come.

The new Enhanced Contactless (Ecos) specifications are an industry-first and will help ensure contactless technology evolves with new disruptive technologies like quantum computing.

According to the firm’s President, Cyber & Intelligence, Ajay Bhalla: “As the ecosystem continues to evolve, more connected devices and the Internet of Things are going to create more user demand and an even greater need for constant innovation to build next-generation capability, helping to ensure that technology never outpaces trust.”

Bhalla said that Ecos offers the following features:

  • Enhanced convenience: Over time, the in-store shopping experience will become increasingly contactless-only. The new specifications will help ensure any device truly can be a payment device, while eliminating the need for a backup swipe or dip of a card.
  • Enhanced trust: Ecos leverages new quantum-resistant technology to deliver next-generation algorithms and cryptographic key strengths while keeping the contactless interaction under half a second.
  • Enhanced privacy: The new specifications deliver advanced protection when account information is shared between the card or digital wallet and the checkout terminal. Ecos builds on increased requirements to support various privacy regulations.
  • Backward compatibility: Ecos works behind the scenes and is delivered via a software upgrade, meaning no new hardware or terminals are required. This investment complements similar ones in tokenization, 3-D Secure and Click to Pay, delivering a better consumer and merchant experience.
Mastercard Ecos Provides future-proof contactless security

As the new specifications are activated over the coming years, consumers and merchants can expect a seamless transition. Digital wallets, mobile payments, contactless cards and point-of-sale terminals will continue to work as they do today.