The popularity of contactless cards continues to grow across Ireland (and the world), to the point where more than 50 per cent of Irish credit and debit card users are tapping to pay for their purchases, with a growing cohort of consumers who would like to see the current limit of €30 increased.
According to consumer research conducted by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), the average contactless payment is for €11.33, with people citing time savings and lower bank charges as being among the reasons why they choose contactless.
“There are over 3 million contactless debit or credit cards in Ireland and usage is growing rapidly. Despite contactless technology being available for less than three years, over 50 per cent of people are now using the technology with 45 per cent of people doing so multiple times a week. This suggests consumers have been very quick to adopt the technology and recognise its ease of use,” said Brian Cleary, General Manager, BOIPA.
“Currently over 35,000 Irish businesses offer contactless payment facilities and contactless is very quickly becoming the norm for consumers and business alike. Over the next five years we expect to see an accelerated reduction in cash transactions as businesses realise the clear advantages of contactless, namely the ability to process more transactions, benefit from reduced cash handling costs and a lesser exposure to theft and misappropriation of cash.”
Alongside their continue proliferation, concerns have been raised in some quarters regarding the security of these cards. Earlier this year, the Irish Independent warned consumers about a new scam targeting contactless bank cards, which was said to involve individuals with point of sale (POS) devices wandering through crowds or shops, entering a price below the €30 threshold, and then tapping the device against the person’s pocket to complete the ‘transaction’. A whole industry has been built up targeting such fears, including anti-RFID wallets and card sleeves to prevent such an incident from occurring (though you could always use tinfoil).
According to Visa, in-built security protects cardholders from fraud or theft. “Every Visa contactless card contains a highly sophisticated and highly secure chip. This chip performs a wide range of functions to maintain the card’s security, and is able to interact securely with a contactless terminal,” the company states on its website. “For a transaction to take place, a Visa contactless card must interact with a Visa contactless acceptance terminal. To do this, it uses private or secret keys to generate one-time-only electronic signatures and cryptograms. That makes it just as a secure as a normal chip transaction, where you also enter your PIN.”
The fears of many consumers, however, have not been assuaged. If your card is lost or stolen, or you suspect fraud, you should report it as soon as possible. Banks have set a limit on how many contactless payments can be made before you must enter your PIN, limiting the damage done should someone else try to use it. But time is of the essence – customers can be liable for a certain amount of unauthorised transactions made before any fraud is reported, which can vary from bank to bank – read the small print in your bank’s terms and conditions.