Banks are apparently forcing so-called ‘contactless’ cards on customers. These let shoppers spend with a simple swipe, but is this actually how we want to squander our money – and are banks downplaying the risks?
From previous Conversations it’s clear that many of you aren’t convinced by a cashless society, but it’s creeping up on us whether we like it or not.
Debit card spending overtook cash for the first time last year, and with contactless technology banks appear to be trying their utmost to speed up the process.
All new cards from Barclays, Virgin Money and the Bank of America will now be ‘contactless’ – this lets us pay for transactions under £15 without the need to enter a pin. Think of the London Underground’s Oyster Cards and you’re half way there – these cards just happen to be wired directly into our bank accounts.
How secure are contactless cards?
The banks secure contactless cards by only allowing a small number of daily transactions, up to £50, before a pin number is requested. However, many customers aren’t convinced, believing that thieves could steal up to 50 quid even though they couldn’t get hold of all the cash in their account.
In retaliation, banks have tried to assure that any money lost to fraudulent activity would be refunded straightaway, but would you be willing to take the risk?
There are already 12 million contactless cards in circulation, and they’re accepted in shops like EAT, Co-operative and Ikea. Both HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland are running trials before they decide to follow suit, and Lloyds TSB is also weighing up the pros and cons.
Should we be made to go contactless?
But do we want them, and should banks be forcing them upon us? Which? Conversation commenter Sophie Gilbert isn’t interested in contactless tech:
‘I can safely assert that if my bank decides to compulsorily issue me with such a card I will never use it for purchases under £15, and this is what I’ll tell my bank if someone nicks my card and decides to make a string of purchases under £15.’
But Mark Austin, who heads up the development of contactless technology at Visa, says that the cards are much safer than using cash:
‘When you lose a £10 note, it’s gone. There’s usually no way to get it back. But if you lose a contactless card, you are protected by fraud protection and when you alert your bank they’ll refund any money lost.’
Which? Convo reader Peter Partington is a convert, telling us that he can’t wait: ‘Bring it on! I thought of this idea a few years ago as I hate waiting in long queues at the check out.’
So should we just grin and bear the onslaught of contactless technology, or should we be given a choice? Do you think the banks are playing down the potential security risks of the technology, or are you happy to swipe and pay?