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Are you ready to just tap and go when you pay?

By Danielle van Wyk

The integration of the tap and go system has revolutionised the way consumers make payments. Instead of having to insert or swipe your card, you are now able to simply tap and have the payment registered almost instantaneously. But how safe is this?

Justmoney explores the tap and go system, its safety measures, and whether it’s beneficial to the consumer.

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“Tap and go transactions allow consumers to shop faster, avoid carrying cash, maintain secure transactions, increase transaction approval rates as a result of improved data quality, and avoid cards being lost or misused when leaving the cardholder’s hands,” says Tshipi Alexander, head of card and everyday banking for RBB SA, and the Absa Group.

Simply put, it’s considered a safe and secure method of making payments, allowing a faster, low-value payment experience, adds Jason Viljoen, FNB Head of Digital Payments.

The pros and cons

Generally, contactless payments are faster and allow for easier transacting as the card doesn’t need to be dipped or swiped, and on average are three times faster than cash payments, explains Alexander.

“In addition, card durability or lifespan is also improved as the card itself does not need to interact directly with the point of sale (POS) device through dipping or swiping,” says Alexander.

There has been concern that because of the ease of the system criminals could access your account and funds more easily.

As a customer, it’s imperative to ensure that you are connected to your bank’s SMS Notification programme for low-value payments being processed on your account. This is helpful in keeping track of all processed payments and allows you to monitor if any unauthorised transactions have taken place.

Another concern could stem from the regulation of such a system.

“As with any new technology, the payments industry needs to work hard to ensure all participants implement the technology according to industry standards,” says Viljoen.

Safety mechanisms

Consumers are encouraged to have their SMS notifications set up as well as their internet banking profiles. Apart from that, certain card transactions will require a pin to ensure card-holder protection. 

“Generally, certain lower value payments do not require a pin for tap and go purchases, but there are clearly defined internal and industry rules around this,” explains Alexander.

Certain contactless security measures make provision for random pin requests in which customers may be prompted randomly to enter a pin or to dip the card for lower value transactions after a random number of contactless taps as a fraud prevention mechanism.

Is this a win?

According to Viljoen it is. “This is in line with global modernisation of payments using advances in technology. The technology enables a faster low-value secure payment experience. Contactless technology also provides the foundation for smarter payments using smartphones, wearables and other innovative solutions.”

This is also an example of how core banking capabilities are evolving and leveraging new technology to provide better customer experiences worldwide.

“Customers who value convenience gravitate toward friction-free experiences and this is no different in payments,” Viljoen says.

Tap and go cards are currently available to most customers across banks. Customers will soon be able to conveniently “lock” and “unlock” the contactless functionality on their cards according to their preference.

Alexander says according to Euromonitor there are approximately 590,000 POS terminals in South Africa. Research suggests that approximately 40% of all terminals in South Africa are contactless enabled.

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