FFE Magazine

High security mobile payment technology in the Works

by FFE EU News Staff



Imagine paying for your coffee by entering a four digit code in your mobile. If you can, then you’ll be happy to know such a technology is already in the works in Oxford University.


Professor Bill Roscoe and his team dreams to create ‘spontaneous security’ technology: a highly secure improvised communication network between mobile phones that allow users to pay for goods or service.


Roscoe explained that ‘What we have been working on all this time is contextual authentication: ways of identifying someone by the context they are in when you don’t have their mobile number, name or anything like that.’ The context can be based on geography. Once a user confirms the identity of that someone, then a secure communication channel between the two can be set up using a four digit code. This communication channel ‘piggybacks on top of an unsecure network like the Wi-Fi in a café or the internet itself.’


The professor added that ‘While how we pay for things has changed a lot, one thing has stayed the same: you have to put in a great deal of information to verify who you are to the person you want to pay.’


OxCept CEO Perry Anderson said that Roscoe and his team have finally discovered the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’ in mobile payments. However, professor Christopher Mitchell cautions that ‘the goal is the maximum amount of security for the least amount of work as we are all busy people.


‘Yes it is unbreakable, it is mathematically proven, but only if you follow instructions. There is a lot more incentive to break [a network dealing with money]. So however good the protocols they can all be undone if the phone has malicious software on it.’


Auditing giant KPMG has projected that mobile payments will exceed $1 trillion in 2015. This is why online payment companies like PayPal have already expressed interest in the professor’s research.


But Roscoe is looking at the technology’s other possible applications. Military response and information exchange in the field of medicine, for example, can benefit from a secure, ad hoc communication network. He said ‘the wider application of this technology is astonishing.’





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