Your webcam can be used as a credit card reader

Webcam pointed at credit card

I have nothing against my computer’s webcam.

It’s great for letting my 2-year-old daughter talk to her grandparents on Skype.

But when I heard about start-up Jumio’s new product, Netswipe, an online credit card processor that uses your webcam as a credit card reader, I was a little dubious.

Would the processor accurately scan the card numbers, or would I need to make a half-dozen payment attempts before it finally went through?

More importantly, how ironclad is the security?

Are my photo and credit card information stored in Netswipe’s data center for all eternity? And what if someone steals my card -- can he simply hold it up to his webcam to Netswipe a round-the-world plane ticket on my dime?

After witnessing the epic failure of the shopping social network Blippy, which inadvertently exposed its users’ credit card numbers to the world, I’m a little skeptical of credit card-related startup companies.

If innovation is more important than users’ security, no one is safe.

Plus, one of Jumio’s biggest investors, Eduardo Severin, was a co-founder of Facebook -- a company that’s not exactly known for its consideration of users’ privacy.

Jumio’s website eased my fears a bit, though: Rather than taking photographs of users’ cards, the service scans card details using technology that can recognize the raised lettering and numbers on your card and doesn’t store the data, which actually makes it more secure than a traditional online credit card form.

Jumio also claims that it can tell fake cards from real ones and that only one of every million card numbers is misread.

It still doesn’t help the fact that a credit card thief can make an online purchase without even needing to know your home address. So Jumio may be wise to implement better fraud-detection measures.

But as far as the data collection process is concerned, the company seems to be on track.

So will people actually use the service if merchants begin to offer it alongside other online payment options?

I doubt that Netswipe will replace the traditional online form completely anytime soon, but if it saves users from the tedious process of typing (and more often, mistyping) their credit card and billing details over and over again, and its security proves to be as good as it claims, this new service could become a hit.

You can follow Interest.com on Twitter and Facebook.