Can you tell us more about CopSonic and how your company came to work with Worldline?
CopSonic is a company that offers a new Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. We enable the communication between speakers and microphones through ultrasounds, transmitting secure information such as identifiers, passwords, digital identities, electronic payments or Blockchain. The company, which I founded, has been in business for 6 years now and has 30 employees, including 11 in France. We participated in the first "e-Payments Challenge" Hackathon organized by Worldline in 2018 in Paris. We had also already been in talks with the company about some of our innovations such as payments on vocal assistants.
How did you come up with the idea of using ultrasound for payments?
Before CopSonic, I worked in the world of audio and signal processing. I studied at the MIAGE School in Toulouse, I am a master engineer and I financed my studies as an artistic director in a cabaret. In those days, I used CDs, and in 1995, the MP3 format emerged. This new format led me to digitize CDs and to create the first software for DJs. 20 years ago, we developed the first audio software and, as of 7 years ago, we have been able to encrypt and modulate information within acoustic signals. I then reoriented my activity: with our best engineers, we dedicated ourselves to the CopSonic adventure.
What added value(s) does this technology bring to payment transactions?
CopSonic brings an added value mainly in the user experience but also in the universality of the solution, combined with a disruptive approach to security and to the exchange of information compared to other technologies. Indeed, user experience is enriched because there is no need for pairing, as it is the case with the Bluetooth technology for example. It is a much more universal experience because all consumers’ electronic devices have speakers and microphones. For secure multi-factor payments on vocal assistants, QR codes, text input, Bluetooth or NFC cannot be used… Only ultrasounds can solve this issue. The new Payment Services Directive (PSD2) requires strong authentication for all electronic transactions. Today, ultrasound communication is the only PSD2-compliant technology for transactions on vocal assistants. Ultrasounds meet the guidelines and work on all existing systems for web and Peer-to-Peer payments, on smartphones and even on smart watches. The user experience is strong because just by launching the application, the ultrasound will "travel" from the cash register, or the vocal assistant, to the smartphone, on which the validation is performed. We are the only providers of this technology in the world to have developed a new codec capable of transmitting data over ultrasounds. This is definitively a small revolution in the telecommunications industry that has not generated or invented new codecs in the last 15 years! CopSonic did it in 2016 and patented it internationally in 2018.
Will ultrasound ultimately replace technologies such as NFC, QR Code, etc for payments?
Our goal is not to replace these technologies. We promote technological hybridization. Our priority is to provide optimal user experience and make sure that the consumer gets the desired service: whether it is for payment, authentication or validation purposes. We want our solution to be hybrid with other technologies. Indeed, a payment application can use NFC, a QR Code, Bluetooth and ultrasounds. The consumer will choose the most appropriate, the most user-friendly and the easiest technology. Ultrasounds are a new communication channel that can work in parallel with other technologies or alone, as in the case for vocal assistants.
What did you present on the Worldline booth at MWC19 Barcelona?
We presented payment, authentication and validation over ultrasounds on a vocal assistant as well as on websites. Besides that, we demonstrated 3D Secure ultrasonic authentication. As stated before, the PSD2 enforces the double authentication factor and requires alternatives to the 3D Secure SMS, which has been depreciated by the European Central Bank as of September 2019. The 3D Secure by ultrasound is therefore a powerful alternative to put forward as to meet to these new requirements.