Breaking Down Myths About Contactless Payments
Every payment method carries some risk. Cash can be lost, and hackers can duplicate mag-stripe cards. In comparison, contactless payments are one of the most secure forms of payment. Since tap-to-go is a relatively new concept in the payment industry, some consumers have questions about security.
Can NFC Signals Be Intercepted?
As a touchless system, contactless payments rely on radio waves sent from a card or device to a NFC-enabled terminal. One could argue that this leaves room for someone with a scanner to steal the customer’s information during a transaction. Technically, it is possible. But in reality, it’s much less of a concern.
NFC sends a short-range signal of around 1.5 inches. To steal data, a hacker would need to have a scanning device positioned within this range. Some critics claim that a customer could have their data taken from their wallets by a stranger with a scanner walking by them in the store. However, the Identity Theft Resource Center has stated that this threat doesn’t exist in real-life situations.
But what if a hacker could scan information from the card – how significant would the threat be? The risk is probably not as intense as you think.
Contactless cards incorporate tokenization to secure the customer’s data further. The token is randomized, producing a unique set of numbers and symbols that represent your card data. Each time you use the card, it creates a new token. If someone were able to scan a customer’s information while making a purchase, the token would become useless after the customer completes the transaction.
Is Payment Data Safe on a Mobile Phone?
With contactless payments, it’s possible to leave your credit card at home and use your phone to make mobile payments with NFC terminals. However, this presents a concern for some consumers – if your mobile phone is lost or stolen, does that mean someone else can access your payment information? Again, the answer is yes, but… in real situations, this threat is minimal.
To make a payment with your device, someone would need to unlock the phone, and successfully log into your payment app. You can also wipe most smartphones remotely if lost, deleting any sensitive information stored on the device.
In comparison, it is safer to lose your phone than to lose your credit card. Your phone has additional protections to keep unwanted parties from accessing its information, while bad actors can charge a credit card with just your zip code.