Will MOTION CODE Make Fraud a Thing of the Past?

Digital-Enabled Credit Cards Aim to Wipe Out Online Fraud

You’re probably familiar with a lot of the usual information you need to submit to make a purchase online. Billing address, card number, expiration date…and oftentimes, an extra number printed on the card.

This number is called the card security code, or CSC It is a three-digit sequence printed on the back of all Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards; for American Express, the code is a four-digit number printed on the card front.

The CSC fills the same role for all card brands: help stop fraud. However, a new twist on that approach promises to take the CSC concept to the next level.


MOTION CODE is a new technology from the security tech firm IDEMIA. The tool employs a dynamic card security code (dCSC), meaning each card issued with this technology will see the printed CSC replaced with a small digital display, allowing the code to change on a regular basis.

Though the technology was first announced in 2011, it’s taken until now to really gain the necessary interest for widespread adoption. The major global payment processor WorldPay recently announced they would lead a trial of the technology, meaning US consumers might start seeing these cards soon.

MOTION CODE could work alongside other security technology ideas for payment cards, like fingerprint-scanning biometric cards. Of course, the biometric security would only work for brick-and-mortar, or card-present transactions. MOTION CODE is a tool for card-not-present security, so you wouldn’t need them at the same time. However, both could play an important role in protecting you against different fraud tactics.

How Does the CSC Work?

The card security code was introduced by Mastercard in 1997. The code is an added fraud protection mechanism for “card-not-present” transactions, in which the seller does not physically handle your payment card, like an eCommerce purchase.

Let’s assume there’s a large data breach, and the credit card information belonging to thousands of people gets stolen. The thieves could make-off with consumers’ names, billing information, card number, and expiration date, but they would not the CSC for any user. That’s because the CSC is not actually stored and verified by the business. Instead, the business collects the cardholder’s code, then immediately transmits it to be verified against the card brand’s records.

The code doesn’t prevent fraud in 100% of cases, but if the person completing a transaction provides a valid CSC, at least that means the person is probably in physical possession of the card.

What if the fraudster manages to intercept the CSC during a transaction using a skimmer or some other means? MOTION CODE makes it even more difficult for fraudsters by adding another layer of complexity to the mix. With a dynamic CSC that changes multiple times a day, any codes stolen by criminals would be outdated and invalid by the time they tried to use them.

No Solution is Perfect

MOTION CODE is a promising step forward, but remember: there is no such thing as “foolproof” fraud prevention. You can take steps to protect yourself, but ultimately, everyone is still vulnerable to a degree. That’s why fraud prevention best practices are so important:

  • Keep up with new and developing fraud threats and tactics.
  • Do not give out personal information to any source you do not trust.
  • Watch for impostor websites, as these may be phishing attempts.
  • Change account passwords regularly to prevent hacking.
  • Shred any documents that contain sensitive information.
  • Signup for 3-D Secure service; either Mastercard SecureCode® or Verified by Visa.
  • Monitor your bank statement and credit report for suspicious activity.

You are your own best line of defense against fraud, so engage in best practices that will keep your information secure.

See a charge on your statement you don’t recognize? Contact eConsumer Services—we’ll get to the bottom of it and help you recover your funds.