What is a certificate? A certificate as defined by Merriam Webster
1: a document containing a certified statement especially as to the truth of something
specifically: a document certifying that one has fulfilled the requirements of and may practice in a field
2: something serving the same end as a certificate
3: a document evidencing ownership or debt
: to testify to or authorize by a certificate
When we designed the EMV specification we employed a cryptographic mechanism to assure the merchant and ultimately the issuer of the presence of a uniquely issued payment card. The goal, address the weakness of the security features then present on a physical payment card.
For the merchant – a local mechanism capable of allowing the device – the point of sale to attest to the membership of that card to the family of cards issued under one of the Payment Network brands.
For the Issuer – a mechanism where the card signed transaction details the merchant would forward a digital certificate – the cryptogram – to the issuer for authentication. This cryptogram included in the message sent to the issuer assured the issuer, the card they issued; was presented to the merchant as a means of payment, for the transaction.
What is a payment card? – It is a certificate, issued by a financial institution, designed to guarantee the merchant will be paid – if they follow the agreed payment brand rules.
What is a ticket? – It is a certificate, issued by the movie theater, or a designated vendor, granting access to some venue or event.
What is a license? – It is a certificate, issued by some authority identifying your right to be or the ability to do something.
In the digital world, certificates are strings of characters, such as 2FG%4T678&b23, created, using some mechanism, by an Authority. The readers, of these characters, use the certificate to Authenticate the uniqueness and Authority associated with the presentation of this certificate by someone or thing to something or someone.