How safe is it to “tap” your bank card when you make payments?

By Isabelle Coetzee

Everyone is avoiding physical contact nowadays, which means that cards that can be “tapped” – or be used simply by hovering around card machines – have become popular.

But how safe is it to tap your card rather than to swipe or insert it into a card machine? We find out what you can do to keep your money safe, as well as what banks are doing to protect you.

Tip: You don’t have to settle on a single bank account. Click here to compare your options.

Are there risks when “tapping”?

Since the transaction can be completed without any physical contact, many people assume that card taps make the transaction less safe than it would be if the card were physically inserted.

According to information received from Capitec Bank, the tap-to-pay functionality is safer than traditional card payments, where the card must be inserted or swiped, because there is no need for the card to leave the client’s hand.

“This prevents fraudsters from using card cloning devices to copy the card’s magstripe, the technology which made the traditional card swipe or insert possible,” the information indicates.

“The belief that tap-to-pay functionality creates the opportunity for fraudsters to steal clients’ details or money by placing a card reader near their wallet is simply not true. Multiple layers of advanced security ensure the protection and encryption of client data on contactless cards, including a feature that prevents contactless card cloning.”

The safest way to tap is to always perform the transaction yourself, says Capitec. In other words, there’s no need to hand your card to anyone or have them perform the transaction for you.

What is expected in the future?

Capitec Bank envisions a future where clients will have access to a virtual card on their banking app, which will be able to do the same job as a normal card.

“Like a physical card, clients can use it online, but it’s safer, as all the information is stored on our app. If a client suspects their card details have been compromised, they can cancel the card from the app and immediately generate a new one,” Capitec says.

“Online shopping and digital payments are growing exponentially every year. While savvy online shoppers will quickly take to the flexibility and ease of virtual bank cards, those who have been wary of online transactions in the past can particularly be assured of safety with these cards,” they explain.

When it comes to online shopping, Trish Ramdhani, head of fraud at FNB Card, said in a press release that it’s important to ensure that you are not caught off guard by online fraudsters.

She suggests keeping the following in mind when you shop online:

  • Ensure that you are buying from reputable websites and apps.
  • Enter the provider’s website by typing in the web browsers yourself instead of accessing it via a search engine, as it might lead you to a spoofed site.
  • Never access the website from a link you receive in an e-mail or SMS.
  • Make sure that you are on the genuine site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar. You will see a padlock, and a URL that begins with https rather than http.
  • Never save your personal and banking details on any merchant website. if the option presents itself, always remember to click “No”.
  • Always remember to log off immediately when you have finished shopping.
  • Always ensure you have the latest anti-virus update on your PC and mobile device.
  • Never provide your credit or debit card details unless you've initiated the transaction.
  • Should you suspect any fraudulent activity, immediately report the incident through your banking app or contact the number on the back of your card.

“Following the above safety precautions, and keeping up to date with the measures that your bank is using to prevent online fraud, will give you peace of mind when shopping online,” says Ramdhani.

You can compare savings accounts, current accounts, and credit cards online – click here.

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