We are happy to let you in on our Limited series NFC wearables that work exactly the same way as a standard contactless debit card.
Our NFC wearables are payment gadgets that can be connected to one of your payment accounts and only work with iCard’s digital wallet. Having one of our NFCs for yourself enables you to spend your money at Millions of retailers around the globe.
What is NFC?
The term NFC is short for Near Field Communication. The technology is tiny in size and enables two devices communicating from a short distance – no-contact at all – approximately 2 centimetres away.
NFC tags and NFC readers can exist separately or together – as in your NFC-enabled phone – to function as a tag when paying or to function as a reader when getting paid.
Battery-Independent tag technology is making them very accessible and widely adopted. Now, contactless is a standard feature of bank and non-bank cards. Anything can be tagged with an NFC and scanned.
You can scan a lot of NFC tag types with your phone’s module or other readers – payment tags, entry cards, passports, transport cards, logistics and warehouse tracking, reward cards, library cards.
If you are the tech type – you can do all sorts of crazy and fun things with programmable NFC modules. For example, you can use tags to make contactless switches. You can have these little pieces installed in your smart home and just getting your phone near can control all sorts of connected things.
You can also have your phone’s NFC scanned for example when you are making a payment with your mobile device.
And of course, you can have your payment information in different tags – controlled by an app and used for payment almost anywhere.
iCard’s NFC key fob
The latest addition to your iCard payment toolset is a small & stylish key fob that can keep your money safe and you can pay by tapping it at contactless POS terminals. Activating one, connecting it to any of your accounts and using it to the fullest requires you to be on the free Standard plan. All it takes is a quick video identification chat.
In the safety context, we need to answer this question for you: “What happens if I’m in public transport and someone scans my cards out of my wallet in my pocket?”
This curiosity will remain, just as it was probing the first contactless payment cards before they got into mass adoption.
Let’s explore how safe NFC payments are really.
The trade-offs for getting a payment done in 5 seconds
Contactless payments are not 100% secure, BUT …
They are secure enough even without the additional security steps that iCard provides.
First of all, there are store guidelines and you as a customer should be aware of them – conscious consumers for example never hand out their contactless cards.
Why would they call it contactless otherwise?
It’s like handling cash money – you should be cautious and use common sense to stay safe.
“But if I lose my card, people who find it can buy stuff!”
Same will happen if you lose your cash, BUT it won’t happen if you lose a magnetic stripe card or a chip card.
Yet, contactless payments feel safe AND THEY ARE FASTER THAN CASH.
That is the trade-off and consumers in some European countries like the UK have voted “FOR” with their contactless cards to risk it for the sake of convenience.
[Update: As of September 2019, every 6th PIN-less, contactless transaction under 25 Euro will require a PIN.]
So, can a hacker scan my NFC debit card or wearable and buy stuff with my money?
When was the last time you heard someone’s card was copied and used to pay at shops?
Yet, there are cases.
Let me brief you on the different layers or levels of defence that you get when using contactless payments.
DISTANCE: 1st level of defence
NFC cards or tags only get powered and active at very short distances. This allows owners to control their risks by controlling who is within their personal space. Entering a PIN for NFC transactions turns it to a contact payment, but your PIN usually remains safe because the POS terminal is right next to you at checkout. The UK Mirror reports there is card cloning risk:
Card skimming has also been known to occur in restaurants and bars, where waiters illegally tap cards while processing payments. Often they’ll have the devices hidden in sleeves, towels and aprons. During this process, they’ll gather details (but not your CVV number at the back) and trade them overseas for cloning.
This can happen when you, as a cardholder, are not careful and instead of just tapping your contactless card or NFC wearable at the terminal, you pass it on to someone else to handle. DON’T do that!
LIMITS: 2nd level of defence
Your NFC keychain, just like your iCard Visa debit card, has a limit on retail transactions you can make without a PIN. Depending on your country, the limit is 25.00 to 50.00 Euro (or it’s rounded up/down equivalent in another European currency). In addition, you can’t be billed twice if you tap twice on the same POS terminal.
ENCRYPTED: 3rd level of defence
Just like chip cards, contactless cards send out a transaction with a one-time code that protects your information and is decrypted by the payment processor – Visa, Mastercard, etc.
Chip+PIN, by the way, is much safer for ATM money withdrawals, because chip can’t be cloned easily as is the case of magnetic stripes.
REAL-TIME: iCard’s additional level of defence
iCard gives you instant payment notifications and freeze/unfreeze options. In the case of a lost contactless payment card or wearable, you can immediately block their use through your iCard digital wallet app. This gives you more responsibility and control when you actually need to prevent theft. With this last level of defence in your own hands, it’s only fair to say that you bear the responsibility to protect and block your money immediately if need be.
If you want maximum security, you can always use a radio frequency shielded wallet or sleeve protector for your NFC tags & contactless cards.
Cool, how can I get my own NFC wearable?
You can get a FREE NFC wearable by joining our “#KeepTapping with Friends” program.
We are making the iCard NFC wearables available for those of you who want just another option for frictionless payments and for those of you who are on iPhone and who are limited to Apple pay only, which is not widely available.