The man who devised the smartcard payment system used in France has offered one million francs (about £100,000) to any hacker who can crack the underlying technology.
Roland Moreno issued his challenge on a French radio station after a website published a method which it claimed could be used to crack the system used on all of France's smart payment cards.
Since the introduction of Mereno's chip-on-a-card technology as a replacement for the magnetic strip to store information, fraudulent card use has declined by 90 per cent. Magnetic strips are still used on most credit and debit cards issued in the UK.
Moreno said all French chip cards are safe from hacking and secure to use, despite the anonymously published crack. He said he issued his challenge to counter a series of articles and broadcasts in the French media which claim that it is now possible for any determined criminal to crack the security codes on French bank cards.
But Cartes Bancaires, the company which administers the smartcard operation for all the banks, acknowledged that for purchases under 500 francs it might be possible to use the crack.
However, the company claimed that the system is still secure against unauthorised withdrawal of cash from ATMs or more expensive goods.
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