[LINK] RFI: Contactless Credit Cards in Oz
fpilcher at netspeed.com.au
Sat Jan 9 08:24:19 EST 2010
From today's SMH
Banks slip scan card into wallets
MILLIONS of Australians have access to new technology that will make
paying for small items quick and easy but may have no idea it is sitting
in their pocket.
''Contactless credit cards'' have been given to more than 3 million
Commonwealth Bank customers and were sent to National Australia Bank
customers from November as well.
The cards work by using radio frequency technology, similar to that used
in e-toll passes, to exchange payment instructions between credit or
debit cards and card terminals.
The credit card companies Visa - in partnerships with the National
Australia Bank, ANZ and Macquarie Bank - and MasterCard - with the
Commonwealth Bank - have been introducing the cards but have not
undertaken heavy promotion until more retailers have the ability to
"This has meant that a lot of people are not aware that they have the
technology sitting in their wallets today," said Albert Naffah, the
vice-president for strategy at MasterCard Australia.
Several thousand merchants accept the cards, including Sumo Salad and
The Visa card can be used for purchases under $100 and the MasterCard
can be used for purchases under $35.
"They are aimed at replacing cash [which] still accounts for 70 per cent
of transactions in Australia,'' a Visa spokeswoman, Judy Shaw, said.
The companies have denied that the cards are more vulnerable to fraud
than traditional credit cards, but in the United States there have been
fears about their security.
A 2006 study by American scientists found that contactless cards were
vulnerable to so-called ''skimming'' attacks.
"An attacker with [a card] reader can harvest information from a card,
create an inexpensive clone device, and make charges against the
legitimate card," the report found.
But Mr Naffah said MasterCard's ''PayPass'' card must physically tap the
scanner in order to be activated.
A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Bank said its technology could only be
activated within four centimetres of a reader.
"You would probably notice someone coming that close to you with a
reader," she said.
However, a privacy expert, Roger Clarke, said he was concerned about the
The banks and credit card companies had not consulted with appropriate
security and privacy experts before providing the cards to customers, Dr
"People who should have been aware that this was going on did not know
it was happening," he said.
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