Easy and secure: contactless payment

Everyone is familiar with this everyday dilemma: buying something quickly and having to rummage around for small change at the till. You spare yourself this trouble with a credit card: You simply hold the card up to the terminal and the payment process is complete. But how can I see whether I can actually make contactless payments? Really easily: You can recognize the contactless technology by the logo with the four waves on the card.

It’s highly likely by the way that your payment card is "contactless-ready". As 90 percent of Swiss credit cards already have this function and contactless payment is becoming more and more popular. According to a survey, one in three credit cardholders already uses contactless payment in Switzerland (Interest group of Swiss card providers, fall 2016).

For you to actually be able to use your card’s contactless function though you need a card reader that is also enabled for contactless payment at the point of sale (at the merchant’s in the store) at the same time. That’s not a problem though as more than 70 percent of card readers are already equipped with the well-known wave logo already and that number is rising. Many outlets for everyday items in particular, such as retail business and ticket machines, have long been upgraded to the latest terminals.

Why exactly is contactless payment supposed to be so convenient? Paying is paying.

The result of a contactless payment is of course identical to using the payment card as usual. However with a contactless transaction you benefit from the payment process being handled much quicker. A contactless transaction works just like any normal transaction but you don’t have to insert the card into a terminal. And the most convenient thing is: You don’t have to enter a PIN for amounts up to CHF 40. As you can see, you save a lot of time overall. You’ve got to pay anyway. So why not at least pay simply and conveniently?

Is contactless payment really secure though? What about if the credit card is lost or stolen, can’t somebody else then simply make contactless payments with it?

First of all, the golden rule applies: A lost or stolen credit card always has to be blocked immediately. There are of course fall-back solutions nevertheless. For example, after a few transactions, you may be asked to enter the PIN code again as a security check. If a suspicious pattern of behavior is detected with a series of transactions, these kinds of security measures are activated automatically. Cardholders should also check their monthly statements regularly to avoid any nasty surprises.

Can you accidentally make a contactless payment, for example, by having your wallet with credit card in your pants pocket?

That is virtually impossible as contactless payment only works with a maximum distance of 4 cm away from the terminal.

Keyword data protection – what data is shared with contactless payment?

The card number, expiry data and a cryptogram are shared with a contactless transaction. The cardholder’s name and card security code are not read and therefore any credit card data fraud is virtually impossible.

And how about if something goes wrong: Who is liable for any losses?

It is important that cardholders comply with the security measures within their obligation to cooperate and exercise due diligence and report the loss of their credit card. In the event of loss, the card issuer is then liable for this in accordance with the GTC.