03 November 2017
Published in The Mirror
It's the size and shape of a normal credit card, and can be used in exactly the same way anywhere that accepts MasterCard, but the new Da Vinci Choice card is anything but normal.
Why? Firstly, it's as many as eight cards in one – letting you carry one piece of plastic then select which account the money comes out of at the point of sale.
Secondly, it's a card where no one – ever – will be able to steal your PIN or card security code to use online. In fact, criminals won't even be able to use it in a contactless transaction.
More tech in less space than you'd think was possible
The Da Vinci Choice card is the brainchild of Simon Hewitt – a man who's worked in banking security for the likes of American Express, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank.
His mission was simple – make a safer credit card. The execution is a marvel of technology.
On top of the traditional chip and magnetic stripe, the Da Vinci Choice card also includes a working screen, keyboard, processor and battery – without making it any bigger or noticeably more fragile than a standard card.
What all that technology lets you do is generate a new PIN or card security number every time you use it – with the screen displaying that number for you – as well as choosing which card to use.
This means that even were someone to steal your card and PIN, it would be utterly useless to them when they tried to use it themselves.
“I’ve seen first-hand how easily people fall victim to fraud, and even if the money is returned, it’s a huge hassle and leaves people in the lurch with their personal finances,” Hewitt said.
“Our proposition is simple; work with us to cut financial fraud out of your wallet.”
Will it actually fit in a cash machine though?
Thinking all this this sounded impossible in something the size of a credit card, Mirror Money took one out for a spin. It works.
The cards fit in cash machines as well as the machines in shops, and generate PINs that display clearly on the e-ink display on the back.
The PINs and card security codes work, but only once, and – we asked – the battery should last for 7,000 uses. That works out as six times a day for three years.
The company will also tell you when it might be running low, so you have plenty of notice before it runs flat.
Do you charge it?
The Da Vinci Choice card is a definite step forward in card security.
It means you can carry just one card, but have access to eight accounts, and they're all all better protected either online or in person than they would be normally.
But it's a faff.
Each time you want to buy something you need to take the card out, switch it on, enter a PIN on the card itself, select which card you want to use, and only then do you get the code to make the transaction work.
In an age of contactless cards working without you taking them out of your wallet before tapping and going, or phones being used in much the same way with just a finger-print to authorise them, this seems like a lot of work.
They also cost £75 each at the moment – compared with, well, nothing for a standard card. That also means that if you lose or break it, you're down £75 rather than, well, nothing.
For people who make security their priority, or in circumstances where you're uncertain how safe something is, it's an excellent way to protect yourself.
Anyone worried about shopping online – or buying from an unfamiliar shop, for example – gets a powerful extra layer of protection.
But for day-to-day use, people seem to increasingly be choosing convenience over security, and this seems like a lot of effort as well as added cost.