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Instant Payment Card - Elliptic Curve Cryptography - Offline Authentication - EU Retail Payments Strategy - Latest SPA Newsletter - October 2020


alain martin spa board member

Dear Colleagues,



With the COVID-19 pandemic creating such tremendous challenges, this year millions of consumers found themselves more reliant than ever on smart cards and devices to pay. Whether that was purchasing goods online or taking advantage of contactless payments to maintain social distancing and minimize waiting time when making essential in-person purchases at pharmacies and stores.



As the first crisis hit, the payment industry took fast action to ensure it could continue to serve customers worldwide. This included implementing appropriate health and safety measures for staff and addressing the many disruptions to global supply chains.



With so many economies and people more dependent on the issuance of new and replacement cards, SPA extends its thanks to its members and all the dedicated personnel working in card production and personalization factories for their continued hard work and commitment.



Against the backdrop of the ongoing global health pandemic, SPA has continued to work with global standards bodies on behalf of the card payment industry. As you will see, it has been a busy year.



Instant Payments in Europe



With private and public sectors pushing for a pan European payment scheme based on instant payments (SCT Inst), SPA continues to stimulate discussions with all stakeholders in the payment ecosystem on the options ahead. SPA clearly supports utilizing existing domestic authorization networks to initiate instant payments in place of the usual clearing and settlement mechanism.




SPA believes this is an effective and practical approach that leverages existing infrastructure and provides a very convenient user experience.



At the same time, SPA wishes to weigh on discussions around the use of alternative mechanisms such as Open APIs that have been primarily focused on the use of mobile phones and QR codes.



In particular, last May, SPA issued a proposal designed to stimulate awareness of how smart cards or digital cards in mobile phones can be used to trigger instant payments at the point of sale while leveraging the new Open API route.



In addition to the paper on a card-based solution for instant payments in Europe, SPA also delivered in July a web seminar discussing how real time transfers could be made available to consumers in-store using a payment card or smartphone app.



SPA is currently working on extending the scope of its work to incorporate remote instant payments in addition to the proximity payments model outlined in the proposal paper.



Broadening our reach – SPA Advisory Council welcomes new members



SPA continues to expand its influence across the payment ecosystem via its different membership levels and its Advisory Council programs which are open for non-members. In addition to Infineon who joined in 2019, we welcomed ST Microelectronics, who recently joined as new member of the SPA Standardization Advisory Council.



The Standardization Workgroup and its Advisory Council act as the primary interface between SPA and regulatory and standardization bodies such as the ECB, ECSG, EMVCo, PCI. This collaboration can lead to common positions shared with ISO. The workgroup is responsible for supporting the development of European and international standards for card-based and digital payment instruments, with a focus on innovation and ensuring that payment systems remain smart, interoperable and secure.



SPA supports the move to ECC-based security mechanisms



SPA is in full alignment with the view of EMVCo that, since post quantum algorithms are still some time away, the best way for the industry to maximize security is to utilize Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for offline authentication purposes. SPA will support members to manage a smooth transition to the new security mechanism and protocols and has prepared a position paper on this subject which will be published soon.



EU retail payments strategy



In September, the European Commission published its summary findings of its Consultation on a retail payments strategy for the EU that is required reading for anyone working in the payments industry. The report sets out the European Commission’s policy intent to facilitate an efficient and interoperable retail payment system across SEPA and SPA believes its Instant Payment Card proposition is fully aligned with this vision.



PCI and SPA pushing for stronger cryptography and authentication



This year has seen SPA further enhance its involvement in the PCI standardization program. SPA contributes to the ongoing work to accelerate the migration of existing card payment systems to stronger cryptography. Also, SPA is involved in facilitating the use of payment services in the cloud. SPA will furthermore, in 2021, contribute a proposal on biometrics to the Special Interests Group (SIG).



This has been a year of unprecedented global events that has challenged SPA members to surmount difficulties in order to support people and economies through the continuous supply of smart payment products. I have never been so proud to be part of an industry that means so much to so many.



Alain Martin

President Smart Payment Association