Now, no more swiping! Contactless cards are here!

By BankBazaar | January 21, 2015

Contactless cards

Many of us think twice before handing over our cards to the waiter in a restaurant. And it is fact that we are not so happy to handover our card to someone, who swaps it at a machine located away from our line of sight. Technology now has solution for this worry too! Contactless cards which are gaining popularity in the West have now come to India. ICICI Bank, the country’s largest private bank has introduced India’s first contactless debit and credit cards in India this month.

You might have heard about this but have a number of queries. So here are answers for your common doubts about contactless debit and credit cards.

So what is a contactless card?

As its name suggests, a contactless card can initiate payment without getting into contact with a swapping machine. These cards operate using the Near Field Communication or NFC technology, enabling you to make merchant payments by simply waving the card or tapping the card in front of a scanner without having to swap the card at Electronic Data Capture (EDC) machine or Point of Sale (POS) terminals. So if you are one of those who have always been worried about multiple swapping of your credit card at restaurants or petrol pumps, NFC based cards would help you put all such worries to rest for good.

How to use a contactless card?

Using contactless cards is an easy process and all you need to do is to tap the card at the reader. The reader detects the radio frequencies and the POS terminal or EDC machine would capture the transaction and give you a printed receipt of the transaction just like it do for other cards in the past.

In case you have a contactless debit card, you would need to enter the PIN number of the card in the EDC machine after tapping the card. The process for payment is the same like old credit and debit card with the only difference being tapping the card at the reader instead of swapping it. Tapping the card would mean your transaction is done in far quick time as compared to swapping the cards using older EDC machines.


How Do Contactless Cards Work?

Contactless cards are based on the near field communication or NFC technology. The ICICI contactless card uses an EMV technology, whereby the reader detects the radio frequencies and initiates the process. These cards are powered by MasterCard Contactless and Visa payWave systems and hence the wave and pay technology used in these cards can be used in both MasterCard and Visa enabled merchant terminals.

How secure is a contactless card?

How secure is the new NFC based card is the most obvious question being asked by many people including technological experts. Since contactless cards use NFC technology which uses radiofrequencies to authenticate data, some experts say that it is vulnerable to skimming attacks, as hackers in the past have been known to steal information using Smartphone from a distance of almost 40 cms. Banks, card companies and various payment gateways are certain that due to their multiple level security mechanism and encryption, even if the skimmers are able to steal card data, they would not be able to use it for any transaction. The ICICI Bank credit cards however use the EMV chip technology which makes the card safer from such skimming attacks.


Is ICICI Bank Contactless Cards available all over India?

As of now ICICI Bank has introduced the technology in only two cards namely Coral Contactless Credit Card’ and ‘Expressions Wave Debit Card’ and are available in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Gurgaon.

Future of Contactless Cards

NFC based contactless cards have been gaining popularity across the world and it was only a matter of time before they were introduced in India. Recently, the technology giant Apple while launching its flagship iPhone 6 and 6 plus had talked about NFC payment mechanism where iPhone users can pay at certain merchants using their phone instead of a card. Contactless cards are likely to gain in popularity in India with time as other banks joining in and offer more such contactless cards and several other game changing options for payments. ICICI Bank has also initiate payment via Twitter this month.

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