In a world where “phone” means a pocket computer, it isn’t surprising that credit cards are turning into interactive security devices. This coming January, MasterCard Worldwide will makes its largest deployment of its Display Card, in Singapore. The card looks and acts like a conventional credit, debit or ATM card, but it also has an LCD display and keypad that allows users to access account information and make more secure financial transactions.

The digital age has made buying, selling and generally moving money around much faster and more convenient. It’s also made it very easy to steal billions of dollars at the click of a mouse. To combat this, banks and credit card companies wage an unending arms race of increasingly sophisticated security measures. One of these is the security token, which is often a physical object like a key fob or an authorized smartphone that acts as an alternative means of confirming the user’s identity.

The problem is, whatever their form, security tokens are one more thing to keep track of. The MasterCard Display Card does double service both as a bank card and a security token. This is particularly important in Singapore, where banking transactions are often complicated.

According to V. Subba, Regional Head of Retail Banking Products, Singapore and Southeast Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, “In Singapore, many customers bank with multiple banks. We brainstormed on ways to make it convenient and yet secure for customers. The question was: instead of sending customers another bulky token, could we replace something which already exists in the customer’s wallet? That was when credit, debit and ATM cards, immediately came to mind.”

The Display Card was first introduced by MasterCard in 2010. Manufactured by Swiss-based NagraID Security, it’s already used in banks in various countries, with Singapore being the technology’s largest deployment to date. The interactive card can act as a conventional bank card, but it also has an embedded LCD display and keypad, which allows the user to generate one-time passwords for over-the-phone use or otherwise insecure transactions.

There are similar cards already, such as the Credit Card Embedded Authentication Device, but the Display Card not only has the security token function, but it will soon have the ability to display real-time account information such as available credit balance, loyalty or reward points, recent transactions,and other interactive information.

The Display Card is scheduled for use in January 2013 by all Standard Chartered Online Banking or Breeze Mobile Banking customers for high-risk transactions, such as those involving large sums, third party payees or changing personal details. In addition, all MasterCard Platinum and Bonus$aver credit cards, MasterCard Super Salary, XtraSaver, Bonus$aver debit cards issued in Singapore will be Display cards.

Source: MasterCard