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BSB 806 015

Less fraud with payWave technology

30 Jun2015

Since 2010, contactless cards have quickly become the norm in Australia, with payWave chip technology seemingly available at every counter at every store - and with every low rate credit card.

Research from the Reserve Bank shows that five years ago fewer than 8 per cent of Australians said they had a contactless card, and only two-fifths of those had made a contactless payment. By 2013, these numbers had jumped to two-thirds and three-quarters, respectively.

It's not hard to see why. PayWave is quick, convenient and even enjoyable to use, both making in-store payments less of a chore and speeding up shopping lines around the country.

But there's still one issue that has been difficult for some to shake off, making a complete takeup of the technology in Australia somewhat elusive: The potential for fraud.

After all, critics say, if anyone can simply take a card and wave it over a machine without a single identifier - such as a pin - in order to pay for an item, then surely that makes a thief's job simpler than ever.

Why open yourself up to fraud?

Fraud figures show contactless technology not to blame

In fact, recently released research from the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) reveals there are some very good reasons to doubt this line of thinking.

The APCA has compiled and published data on card and cheque fraud since 2006, based on statistics it has collected from financial institutions and Australia's major card schemes. Its latest release of data suggests that the introduction of payWave functionality has not led to an increase in fraud.

According to the data, while card fraud rates have increased from 46.6 to 58.8 cents for every $1,000 spent over the last year, most of this is due to what's known as 'card-not-present' fraud.

This occurs when a criminal obtains a card's details and uses them to buy something in a non-face-to-face setting - online, or over the phone, for example. This type has jumped from being 52 per cent of all fraud in 2009 to 77 per cent in 2014.

Needless to say, this type of fraud is not related to payWave chip technology.

In fact, the type of fraud commonly thought most likely to increase as a result of the introduction of this technology - the unauthorised use of lost or stolen cards - has largely stayed the same. While in 2009 it numbered 10 per cent of all fraud, in 2014 it had slightly fallen to 9 per cent.

PayWave technology became available in 2011.

Contactless payments defend against fraud

In fact, according to the APCA, there is evidence that contactless technology has helped to minimise other types of fraud. In this same period, counterfeit cards and skimming fell a massive 21 per cent, sitting at only 11 per cent of all fraud in 2014.

This is "largely due to the widespread rollout of chip technology on cards and at merchants as well as the removal of the signature as an authentication option for most cards", states the APCA report.

In order to further combat this, Australian ATMs will start being moved from magnetic stripe to chip technology over the next few years.

Card security a top priority for any consumer

While payWave and other types of contactless card technology may not be making us less safe, it's nevertheless important to be vigilant with our credit cards.

The APCA has noted that cybercrime is an increasing challenge in Australia. Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Criminology has noted that Australians lost nearly $90 million to fraud in 2013.

  • Everyone with a transaction or credit card should take a few basic card security tips on board:
  • Keep your card details safe, and don't give them to anyone you don't trust - and whatever you do, don't post the card number online.
  • Don't use Wi-Fi hot spots or public computers for internet banking, such as in internet cafes or libraries.
  • Secure your computers and mobile devices by backing up content, using password protection and setting up a password for your internet service.
  • Avoid using autocomplete software on your computer.
  • Choose strong passwords - preferably a mix of numbers, symbols and upper- and lower-case letters.
  • At the same time, don't use the same password for every account, and avoid easily guessed passwords like your birthday or address.
  • Try not to store passwords undisguised on your computer, and if you send your details online, make sure the site is secure.

Both the Western Australia Police and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also recommend you regularly check your statements to spot any suspicious activity.

Finally, if you want to be extra sure of the safety of your online payments, make use of Visa Checkout. Through a single sign-in, you can make secure online payments at any store that has the Visa Checkout button.

In fact, by entering your billing and shipping information only once, you'll also end up saving yourself time in the long term - so no matter what, you're winning.

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