Are Tap-and-Pay (Contactless) Cards Secure?

Contactless, or tap-and-pay technology, is one of the most revolutionary trends in the digital payment process, allowing people to make payments without even physically swiping or inserting their credit or debit card at a payment terminal. While contactless payment cards have gained massive popularity, the question that still haunts many users is; “Are the tap contactless payment cards safe to use?” well, let’s discuss the same in detail below.


What is a Contactless Smart Card?


As the name suggests, contactless payment card technology is a form of communication that allows a user (card holder) to make the payment by simply holding or tapping their debit or credit card on a contactless-enabled card reader. A contactless smart card reader is required to accept payments through this kind of card. These cards come with advanced near-field communication (NFC) technology that allows for instant data transmission among devices. Contactless smart cards are equipped with radio-frequency identification technology (RFID). These cards also come with an EMV chip and the usual credit card details like card number, expiration date, security code, and magnetic stripe. It is worth noteworthy that these smart cards are much faster than swiping the magnetic stripe or inserting the EMV chip. At the same time, these cards are much better at securing your information.


There are various benefits of using contactless smart cards. Some of which include the following:


  • Speed – One of the best parts about using contactless cards for making payments is that they can get the job done quickly with just a tap on the device. Unlike the traditional payment-making process through debit cards which includes inserting cards into the machine, using smart cards needs just a tap.
  • Reduced Contact with Public Surfaces – During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has learned to go contactless, which is the growing trend these days. Since these smart cards need not be inserted inside the device or need any PIN, it makes this technology safer for the user too. Using contactless credit cards helps avoid more touch points.
  • Less Wear-and-Tear – Since there is no need to keep inserting your card into POS devices, there are fewer chances for the card to get damaged due to regular usage. When not inserted inside the POS device, a contactless card chip can last for years.
  • Better for Overseas Travel – Even if you are planning to travel abroad and would like to stay safe with touch-free payment technology to avoid any kind of infection, using a contactless payment card can be the right choice to make for international travels.


How safe are contactless smart cards?


As user adoption of contactless payments grows, it is a very common fact that many people are now concerned about the safety of their crucial details. While all digital payment methods come with potential vulnerabilities, it is important to note that contactless credit cards are equipped with the same level of security features as any other payment method. Since contactless smart cards are aimed at future generations, they are sure to be the right choice when you want to make a mark as a business owner.


  • Transactions are encrypted – The best part about the contactless smart cards is that all the transactions being made through these cards are secured with encryption technology. The private key or certificate is protected on the card and it is ensured that no merchant receives the sensitive data which belongs to the consumers. Only a hash/encrypted number is passed to the merchant.


  • Follow all PCI Security Standards – According to the latest news, the PCI Security Standards Council had released advanced standards to secure digital contactless payments made through off-the-shelf devices. The goal of this initiative is to help increase the overall safety of global payment account data by developing standards and programs that support secure payment acceptance. It is mandatory for merchants to use the validated CPoC Solutions to identify contactless acceptance.


  • Multifactor authentication – We are living in this highly advanced world where all the data is available online. Since you do not want hackers to have access to your crucial financial details, it is important that you rely only on a secured payment method that is backed by the multi-factor authentication system. With contactless payment cards, businesses can let consumers instantly authorize a transaction by simply clicking a button on the dedicated mobile app.


  • No card cloning – In the recent past, card cloning has been one of the most common concerns among the users of credit and debit cards. Smartcard makers understood this and hence came up with this revolutionary technology that has the potential to literally eliminate the risk of card cloning. According to specialists in the field, it is nearly impossible to clone a contactless smart card and the credit goes to data collected by a hidden reader like a smartphone or any other NFC reader. Another reason why card cloning is impossible for these cards is that when you make a payment with a contactless payment card, it provides a unique, one-time code that identifies the transaction. But it doesn’t mean that it is impossible because these cards have a magnetic stripe, the info from the magnetic stripe can be cloned. But it is important to keep in mind that this information only works for swiped purchases.



The future seems bright with contactless cards


In the recent time o COVID-19 pandemic, the world has learned the ways to live with contactless methods. The situation also accelerated a contactless card trend that was already underway and the future of digital contactless payment cards seems to be a brighter one. Modern consumers seem more accustomed to contactless payments and seem to be enjoying the benefits of the faster payment processing facility. We know that the habits, especially for payments, formed during the pandemic are likely to continue. As a result, there is surely going to be an increased demand for contactless payments across all mechanisms going forward.