Inside Tap & Go Contactless Cards payWave And PayPass & Are They Secure Enough

Over the years, card payments in India have become popular and contactless cards like Visa’s payWave and Mastercard’s PayPass are also becoming mainstream. These contactless cards today are gaining a lot of traction. They are not only helping people make small transactions quickly but are also doing away with the need for PINs.

Built with a complete focus on delivering a hassle free transaction, these cards don’t need to be swiped or dipped. Also, the consumer doesn’t need to hand over the card to the cashier. All s/he needs to do is wave or tap the card on the machine. Voila! The transaction is done. It is that easy.

However, even these cards have their own limitations. How it works is if you tap your card/device at checkout, it must be within 4cm of the card reader.

How do the Paywave cards work?

Contactless cards are embedded with integrated circuits that can store and process data and communicate with a terminal using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. These cards also have an antenna and magnetic strip embedded in the plastic that completes a transaction.

Also, if in case you don’t know what NFC is, it is a set of protocols that enable two devices, one of which is usually a portable device, to establish communication. Also, this is the same protocol that defines the distance between contactless cards and the PoS machine i.e. within 4 cm (1.6 in) of each other. So, every time a contactless card is brought near to a PoS machine, the antenna transmits purchase information to and from the reader securely, and if the transaction amount is or below ₹2000, it completes the payment.

Are The Contactless Cards Safe?

Amid all the talk about the technology and benefits of contactless cards, there are people who are sceptical about the security part of these cards. Are these cards really safe that doesn’t even ask for the pin to make a transaction?

At the heart of the concept of contactless cards is the fact that while transacting, the card doesn’t leave the consumer’s hand. That is not all, in terms of data security, even contactless cards are as secure as any other chip card as they have the same security layers.

Recently, there were talks that a contactless card can be used compromised by keeping a PoS machine near the wallet where the card is kept. However, it seems less possible. Why? Contactless cards use the NFC technology to build a connection to communicate for a successful transaction and during the process, there shouldn’t be any obstacle in between. So, a contactless card kept inside a wallet along with other cards is not much likely to work.

Another reason is that if the card is kept with another contactless card, the PoS machine wouldn’t be able to read only a particular card, making it way too difficult to carry out any unauthorised transaction.

Bottom Line

Technology has proven time and again that it can transform anything and contactless cards are another great example of it. Talking about the security factor of the card, to a great extent, it is safe, however, there are still chances that a loophole might emerge, and hackers would be able to make adversarial use of these contactless cards.

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