This invention relates to a virtual credit card (i.e. a set of data containing all relevant information of a physical credit card, e.g. credit card number, expiration date, second security code=CVV2 . . . and having the function thereof, at least to a predetermined extent) and to a process and system for providing such virtual credit card, as well as to an electronic payment process and system.
Although nowadays credit cards are widely spread and used in the internet, many concerns, restrictions and open issues are linked to the usage.
The growing number of credit card fraud, phishing and pharming attacks limits the willingness of customers to use credit cards both online and offline. More and more users are not willing to enter their credit card information on websites as they are afraid of becoming victims of ID and credit card fraud. Thieves would have immediate access to their credit card account, whereas the fraud is limited by the credit limit of the card.
Besides online fraud, happening after having entered credit card details online, additionally, cards can get lost, get stolen or any other kind of fraud can happen. This is a general disadvantage of any kind of physical card, known since long ago, but not yet satisfactory resolved.
Additionally, the growing number of teenagers using the internet for shopping is not yet fully served. Teens are typically the most Internet-conversant segment of the population, but they are limited in their desire to shop online as the primary means of payment used on the Internet is credit cards and teenagers below a certain age or income have only restricted access to credit cards.
In the last few years, therefore, several schemes for generating and using online-based derivatives of regular credit cards have been published and, at least to some extent, introduced in internet payment procedures. However, although these attempts provide a number of advantages and look promising, they suffer from several problems regarding the complexity of required procedures and/or the fulfilment of security requirements.
Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved virtual credit card and process, and a system for providing same and for electronic payments, which in particular are flexible and easy to handle and, nevertheless, make possible the high security standards which are required for financial transactions in general, and specifically for the distribution and usage of credit cards.
This object is, in its product aspect, solved by a virtual credit card according to the invention, and in its process aspect by a process according to the invention, and in its system aspect by a system according to the invention.
The virtual prepaid/credit card is a virtual credit card (containing all relevant information of a credit card, e.g. credit card number, expiration date, second security code (CVV2), . . . ) sent to the user via SMS directly on his/her mobile phone—as illustrated in FIG. 1—and therefore usable from everywhere around the world, at any time without the need of having a physical plastic card with you.
The virtual prepaid/credit card gives the user the opportunity to act more flexible, safer and more convenient than with a physical credit card without the need to carry cash with you. Besides, the consumer can use a virtual card for additional purposes e.g. giving away virtual gift cards or enabling usage by other people (children, friends, . . . ) in an easy way.
Once registered on a dedicated website, the user isn't dependent on the physical credit card any more. The solution can be web-based or mobile-based. This means that the solution can be used via a web interface or directly from the mobile phone. For the mobile-based solution, no access to internet is necessary. The procedure can be executed completely via the mobile phone using voice authentication. In the web-based scenario voice authentication is replaced with a secure login using a user-ID or user name, combined with a password or PIN code. For both alternatives, the user will receive a virtual card on his mobile phone via SMS. This virtual card (either prepaid or credit) is usable in the same way as any other credit card in any online shop.
The invention also provides a platform for financial transactions between private users of the system (peer-to-peer), as well as for the access to cash, using cash dispensers which are adapted to the system.
One embodiment of the invention provides for some kind of system-internal currency which may be designated as “e-credit” and which may be managed with system-internal accounts of the respective users (card holders). It may be useful to link these system-internal accounts to a general account of the system, which makes the system relatively independent from external credit card or banking systems and enables a flexible coupling to such systems. The system may be used by enrolled (and authenticated) users in its full performance. Furthermore, it is open to non-enrolled users, as recipients of electronic money or even cash. In a preferred embodiment which is excellent due to its extremely low safety risks, anybody who participates in the final transaction as a sender of money has to make a payment of a sufficient amount their own system-internal account, and the predetermined amount likewise limits any transaction amounts which may be handled by the holder of the virtual credit or prepaid card.
Further important aspects of the invention are described below.
It is to be noted that any terminal having a connection to a telecommunication network is suitable as telecommunications terminal for producing the virtual credit or prepaid card, e.g. in addition to mobile phones or other mobile terminals (e.g. Blackberry, PDA or notebook with mobile transceiver part, etc.) fixed-line phones, satellite phones etc., or even data terminals comprising a suitable equipment, e.g. for VoIP transmission.
Regarding the enrollment or authentication procedures, respectively, it is to be noted that they are preferably based on a voice profile of the user. Besides this, further biometric features are to be considered in general, as well as PINs, code words or “secret” information originating from the private surroundings of the users (so-called “shared secrets”) which have been registered in the system in advance. When implementing the system, it may be useful to offer the user, in case of failure of an enrollment or authentication, a second way, on the basis of a corresponding user menu, which second way allows for an at least temporary usage of the system without regular enrollment/authentication. Such multi-step authentication solutions are, as such, described in further patent applications of the applicant and will, therefore, not be explained in detail here.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Further advantages and aspects of the invention may be derived from the following explanation of preferred embodiments in connection with the figures, of which:
FIG. 1 shows a screen of a mobile phone display illustrating important aspects of the virtual credit card of an embodiment of the invention,
FIG. 2 shows a diagram illustrating a basic scheme of creating virtual prepaid/credit cards,
FIG. 3 shows a simplified default flow diagram further illustrating an embodiment of the invention, in the registration and enrollment phase,
FIG. 4 shows a default flow diagram of this embodiment, illustrating the usage of this service,
FIG. 5 shows an exemplary dialogue during the enrollment in the corresponding system,
FIG. 6 shows a corresponding dialogue of a verification during the usage of the system, and
FIG. 7 and 8 show modified dialogs during an enrollment or verification.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The system is based on the multi-tenant idea—it is comparable to the software field, where a single instance of the software runs on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor's servers, serving multiple client organizations (tenants). In the case of a virtual card the single instance of the software is the data of the original physical card or bank account, the tenants are the virtual credit or debit cards activated by the user, respectively the mobile phones, the virtual credit/prepaid card is sent to as illustrated in FIG. 2.
The default flow diagrams of FIG. 3 and 4 show the flow of web registration and voice enrollment (FIG. 3) and the usage of the service (FIG. 4). See also FIGS. 5 to 8 for more details about the enrollment and verification process.
For using the virtual prepaid/credit card, the user has to register on a dedicated website. During the registration, the user has to provide various data. The web registration is obligatory for all users who want to use the service. Voice registration/authentication is an additional feature, which enables users to use the service from the mobile phone. With regard to details of the voice authentication procedures and systems which are usable in the framework of the present invention, we refer to EP 1 172 770 B1 or EP 1 172 771 B1, as well as to several unpublished German patent applications of the applicant.
The following data have to be provided by the users to register for the virtual prepaid/credit card. Part of the data (username, password, phone number, . . . ) will be used later on to identify and verify the user, part of the data (bank account or credit card details) is necessary to clear the money. →Login Data: Username and Password →Personal Date: Name, address, date of birth →Default Cell phone number →Bank Details: Bank account details and/or credit card details
The user can choose which reload method he is willing to use. The user can either choose a virtual prepaid card or a virtual credit card. A virtual prepaid card means that the amount of the virtual card is pre-paid. The amount is only usable once the money is cleared. Optionally the user can choose a normal virtual credit card. This means that the virtual credit card has the same characteristics as a normal credit card and the user does not have to pay in advance.
After a successful first registration step the user will receive a SMS sent to his/her cell phone with a PIN and a phone number to complete the voice enrollment for using the service directly from the mobile phone and not web-based. This guarantees that the user can enroll for the voice service whenever he/she wants to do so.
A detailed enrollment procedure is shown in FIG. 5 or—in a modified form—in FIG. 7, respectively.
Adding Additional Cell Phone Numbers
The user always registers with one default number. The mobile phone linked with this number will serve as the virtual card vehicle, on which the user will receive the virtual details SMS. With the default number the user also executes the voice enrollment. In cases of adding new, additional number for enable children, wives/husbands or other people there are different options:
After adding a new mobile phone number the system will send a SMS with a confirmation code to the default user's mobile phone number to confirm that the new number is added correctly and no fraud can happen.
For confirmation purposes the user receives an E-Mail on his/her default E-Mail account with an activation code to enable new mobile phone numbers. After clicking on the code the user will be redirected to an website to activate the new mobile phone number.
New numbers can be added to the existing and registered default number without the need to verify a new number. The can be either added and stored on the website and the user's account or have to be typed in every time the users wants to activate a virtual card.
The additional mobile phone number has to be entered every time the user wants to send the virtual card to a different mobile number.
An explanation of the usage or virtual card activation procedure, respectively, is given below, considering the two basic scenarios of web-based or mobile phone-based scenarios.
To activate a new virtual card online the user has to login to his/her account online. Having logged in to his/her account, the user can activate a new virtual card based on the stored data of the physical credit card or the bank account. Optionally, the user can choose whether he/she wants to activate a virtual prepaid card or a virtual credit card. This may depend on the payment method chosen as well as on the preferences of the user.
As a next step the user has to choose with which amount he/she wants to top up the prepaid card, respectively for which amount he/she wants to activate the credit card for. Optionally, the user can choose the expiration date of the credit/prepaid card.
The user has to choose whether he/she wants to send the virtual card to the default mobile phone number or another registered mobile phone number. Optionally, the user can enter a new mobile phone number without authorizing the new number.
Once the user has initiated the virtual card activation, a virtual card number is generated and sent to the user via SMS.
The virtual card on the mobile phone can be used for any kind of transaction at an online merchant as long as the payment doesn't exceed the amount activated or topped up on the card.
Mobile Phone-Based Scenario
To activate a virtual card from the mobile phone the user has to call a dedicated number from anywhere he/she has mobile network coverage. After calling the number the user has to identify and to authenticate using voice authentication.
For identification the user's MS-ISDN is checked. It's compared to the existing database and the user is identified. Optionally, the user has to enter a user-ID or user code using DTMF or voice recognition.
Once the user is identified, he/she has to follow a challenge/response procedure for authentication. The system will provide certain numbers which the user has to repeat to get authenticated. Optionally, the user has to enter a shared secret via DTMF for a first authentication step.
After successful voice authentication, the user is provided most of the options as in the web-based activation scenario. The user has to type in the desired amount he/she wants to activate the virtual card with using DTMF and confirm this amount. Optionally, the user can choose the amount from a list of available amounts using DTMF or voice recognition.
Once the user has initiated the virtual card activation, a virtual card number is generated and sent to the user via SMS.
Text messages comprising the SMS format are, in a currently preferred embodiment of the system, suitable means for initiating payment procedures and for topping-up the virtual prepaid card or even physical prepaid cards. For processing the SMS messages the central server of the system, herein also designated as authorizing system server, comprises an SMS gateway as a message interface. It is to be noted that besides the well-established SMS transmission in mobile networks meanwhile the transmission of similar messages in fixed-line networks is technically possible and well-established, so that the gateway may also be adapted as an interface to fixed-line telecommunication networks.
It makes sense that in the proposed system several standard types of SMS or components (templates) therefore are predetermined, which will be used for initiating predetermined procedures (activating a card, topping-up payment instructions). Such standard types may, after receipt at the server gateway, be processed into control data sets for triggering several electronic transactions in the payment server, with relatively low processing load and, therefore, very quickly.
An essential safety feature of the proposed process and system, in a preferred embodiment, is provided in that an authentication step is carried out in the framework of a call-back to the sender of a transaction order. The call-back can be made on the same channel on which a message initiating the transaction has been transmitted (i.e. in case of a mobile SMS via the same mobile network). However, in special cases intentionally a different channel (e.g. a fixed-line network or a data network connection) can be selected. For authenticating the sender of the transaction order the authentication mechanisms mentioned further above, or even other well-known authentication mechanisms, are used. It is useful to present, during the above-mentioned call-back, a user-friendly user menu to collect the required data.
Furthermore, for the sake of a system operation which is likewise smooth and aimed at a high user acceptance it is important to send suitable confirmation messages (preferably also via SMS), be it to the initiator of a prepaid card topping-up or to the initiator, as well as to the recipient, of an electronic payment.
Embodiments of the invention are not restricted to the above described examples and emphasized aspects but may also be formed with a variety of modifications which are within the scope of one of ordinary skill in the art.