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Jersey Consumer Council

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What are Contactless Payments?

October 21, 2015 Banking No Comments

What is Contactless?

Contactless is a function on certain debit, credit and prepaid cards that allows you to make a quick and easy payment for goods or services for an amount that is £30 or less without entering a PIN.

The embedded chip allows you to wave or place your card over a reader at the point of sale.

Where you see the contactless wave displayed (like the one on this page) and have a contactless card (debit, credit or prepaid), you can make a contactless payment where the amount is for less than £30.

Contactless Concerns

It is reported by both the Guardian and the BBC that concerns have been raised on three main fronts……
  1. The process is fast and appealing but does bypass the pin number security step
  2. Contactless payment data can be picked up from a distance
  3. The security flaw of foreign currency

Computing guru’s from computing.co.uk highlight that there are checks and balances in place that will prevent data exploitation from a thief. For example there is a requirement for periodic PIN confirmation thus there’s only a certain number of times a card could be used by someone other than the cardholder, and only for transactions up to the contactless limit.

Harvesting data has a far greater appeal to fraudsters but just one set of data at a time is not as appealing as it sounds. Researchers at the University of Surrey have proved that it is technically possible to capture data during the contactless payment process from up to half a meter away using a specially designed pocket sized antenna and equipment.

The UK Card Association says that ‘that fraudsters would not be able to harvest enough details to be dangerous’.

It should be pointed out that Contactless cards systems use different security features to hide banking details, including encryption, and authentication mechanisms to check whether details should be transmitted.

‘Instances of fraud on contactless cards are extremely rare’ says the UK Cards Association.

Remember that any payments made by the Contactless method are covered under Visa’s cardholder protection scheme. However you MUST take all reasonable precautions to protect your card and let your bank know as soon as you realise it’s gone.

Researchers find Visa contactless payment ‘security flaw’; reported by the BBC on 1 November 2014 – the researchers say that a glitch means Visa’s cards will approved unlimited spending if it is put through in a foreign currency. Consumers need to be aware of this glitch! Check the screen for the ££££££ sign.


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