Contactless cards are going pervasive in the world as technology is relentless in devising new means of providing fast, easy and secure way of making payments across various platforms and locations across the globe in split seconds. As a “brave new world” in technology, the contactless smart card is used by over 370 million people in over 8 million locations in 111 countries. Here in the West African sub-region, Ghana as a nation isn’t doing bad technological and these contactless card are gradually encroaching and changing the way payments are being made in the Gold Coast.
If there is anything that statistics denotes in a crystal way, then it is the sheer fact that people trust these contactless card and welcome its usage with open arms. Contactless cards are flaunted as being authenticated and secure because of majorly the mechanism in which it operates. The security factor has become the hallmark of this innovative technology.
The card and their host devices make use of Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology as in the case of mobile phones to make payments and Radio Frequency antenna RFID for cards. The radio frequency antenna provide a means for information to be transmitted between the contactless card and the card reader wirelessly.
This welcomed development and rising trend in the way payments are being made isn’t void of its security challenges, despite being labelled authenticated and secure. As a matter of fact, the insecurity involved in its usage is also becoming one of the most flogged subjects about the contactless payments.
Let’s Take an Overview on some of the Security Issues Associated with These Contactless Payment methods.
The Issue Of Biometrics
When using contact cards to make payments, you just insert your pin into the device reader and transact. If by any chance there’s a case of pin theft on you, it’s pretty much easier to just amble down to your financial institution and request for a pin change. When using biometric authentication to make contactless payments, your fingerprints is needed to carry out the transaction.
What if your fingerprint is comprised? People could really go out of their way to duplicate your fingerprint with your body fluids in desperation to rip you off. Can you possibly change your unique fingerprint? What if a rogue detaches your finger with a knife? What if? And more what ifs?
• Up-to-Date Apps
When using your phones to make contactless payments, apps makes that process possible. You will have the app downloaded and installed in your phone. When making the payments, you do it via the apps but it is done without a card and this means of payment is more prominent in Ghana with mobile banking systems.
These apps need to be updated regularly in order for its security features to stay active. If you are using an older version, chances are that the latest version is embedded with more security features than the one you are using. You being left out of the loop leaves you prone to security breach and attack. The remedy to this challenge is to always update your app as often as possible to keep your transactions authenticated and secure.
• Mobile Phone Theft
In a world where thieves never go weary of committing startling heists, the theft of mobile phones have become commonplace in Ghana. This challenge is also being faced by contact cards equally. When your phones gets stolen, although security measures are being upgraded daily in making sure thieves never succeed in their quest to gain access to private data in stolen phones, we can’t rule out the possibility of them cracking or decrypting. The more men have learnt to shoot without missing, the birds have learnt to fly without perching. So while security measures are getting stringent, hackers are also bracing up and upgrading their skills to match up
• Lost and Stolen Cards Still Work After Being Reported of Theft
When the cards invaded our world of payments, concerns were rife about cases when the cards get stolen. The question of what happens next popped up and the financial institution cleared the air and told customers to go home and be at rest.
The solution was to report any case of card theft as soon it happens and the bank will render the card invalid cancelling every transaction and further usage. However, cases of the cards being used months after they have been reported as stolen still persisted and the concerns kept growing. Same is still said of contactless cards when they get stolen. Perhaps the banks left the cancellation of the cards in oblivion or they were lacking the capacity to do so. Whichever is the case, always follow them up to make sure you don’t have your account drained completely by fraudsters.
• Criminal Eavesdropping or Listening in.
When you could just walk down the store and hand the cashier your bucks to get whatever you want, the only risk you are faced with is a robber placing a gun in your butts or head and asking you to hand him the cash. That’s not quite ubiquitous but with contactless cards using the NFC technology, a clever hacker can just eavesdrop on your transaction while it is in process and steal sensitive data from you to rob you silly. The hacker uses certain information limited to you and carries out such act.
While we are all happy with the fast, almost secure and efficient way to make payments without cards and even cash, the handful of security challenges is bringing a twist to the entire welcomed development and creating a cloud of uncertainty around the authenticated and secure label of these cards.
However, it is way better than going about with a large chunk of cash in your pocket or stressing your cards with PINs and devices. Report any fishy observation in your account immediately and always follow up on your bank to make sure your funds are safe.