Apple Card Gets Creative Security Feature

Rolled into all of Monday's iOS updates was this unannounced Apple Card security feature: rolling CVN (3-digit) codes for Apple Card.

When enabled, Advanced Fraud Protection will cause the three digit security code used for making purchases online to change every so often, which protects you if your card details are compromised by an online merchant. Apple says that the feature will not impact recurring purchases and subscriptions.


CVN codes are those 3-digit numbers on the back of your card. It's a fraud-deterrent in place to avoid charges without access to the physical card. That has not stopped fraudulent charges by even a cursory search for news about fraud. The idea of permanent numbers changing periodically is a great way to help stem some flow of fraud out there.

I love this idea and it shows some level of new thinking by Apple, or Goldman or MasterCard. The concept of a credit card "number" is severely outdated. Your number never changes. Crooks can easily steal it. When it eventually is stolen either physically or from a data breach, you're forced to go through a painful process to update tons of systems with the new card information. "Tokens" or one-time-use credit card numbers would eliminate this completely. This is how Apple Pay works. A new token is used every time you pay with your iPhone or Apple Watch. If a merchant gets hacked, your real credit card number remains safe. Aside from the pure speed of paying with Apple Pay, this is a major advantage too.

The time has definitely come for physical credit cards to get updated physical security. A card with an eInk display to change the number after every use would be a great start. Sites like are fantastic for online & merchant-locked cards. They will decline a transaction if the card is used anywhere else after the first use. Perhaps others will follow in Apple's footsteps with Advanced Fraud Protection. Merchants adopted chip-enabled card readers and NFC (Apple Pay compatible) terminals at a snail's pace. If these ideas were implemented today, it could be at least five years before we saw something in the real world.