Why Chip & PIN is No Longer Good Enough for Contactless Payments

19 March 2018

Contactless payments have truly taken off in the UK, but security remains a key concern – only the Da Vinci Choice card offers a solution that provides the perfect balance between convenience and risk.

Chip & PIN machines – also known as card readers and card machines – have been a popular method for retailers to take card payments for well over a decade. The technology is considered much safer than the old chip & signature system that it has largely replaced.

Chip & Signature Cards

With chip & signature, card owners simply verify their identity with a signature. At the point of sale, a consumer produces his/her pre-signed card, signs for the payment, and it is down to the merchant to make a judgement as to whether or not the two signatures match and authorise the payment.

It is an imperfect system for sure. Most people have pretty illegible scribbles for signatures, and with a little practice, criminals can quite easily forge a signature when paying for goods in shops.

Magnetic Strip Cards

Magnetic strip cards use, as the name suggests, a magnetic strip which contains the card’s details. When making a payment, the magnetic strip card is swiped through a card reader, which scans the information and then authorises the payment.

The main problem with magnetic strip cards is that they are very easy to duplicate, which is indeed why identity theft and card fraud are so prevalent on these types of cards.

Chip & PIN Cards

Like chip & signature cards, chip & PIN cards have a computer microchip embedded in the card itself. In terms of security, these came as a big improvement to both magnetic strip and chip & signature cards.

In a chip & PIN card transaction, either the merchant or the customer inserts the card into a compatible card reader. The chip on the card generates a transaction code, which is only eligible for one, single transaction. The customer then enters his/her PIN into the card reader to prove that he/she is the verified owner of the card.

In essence, it is really only the PIN verification that forms the main difference between chip & PIN and chip & signature. It is of course far more difficult to acquire a PIN than it is to forge a signature, and so chip & PIN cards are largely regarded to be more secure than chip & signature cards.

Contactless Cards

Many chip & PIN cards can be used today to make contactless payments. Although it got off to a slow start when it was first introduced in 2007, contactless payment technology is now in widespread use, and has revolutionised the retail experience for millions of shoppers.

Contactless is the quickest and easiest way to pay, and consumers can make purchases of up to £30 in stores without having to enter a PIN.

A contactless card contains a tiny chip that uses either RFID (radio frequency identification) or NFC (near field communication) technology to communicate with the card reader. All consumers need to do is hold their contactless card close to the card reader, and the chip sends the necessary data, initiating the processing of the transaction.

The Risks of Contactless

Despite the convenience, the proliferation of contactless cards comes with many risks. Without having to produce a PIN – or even a signature – to verify that you are the owner of the card, a crook who comes into possession of a contactless card can very easily treat themselves to a shopping spree on the card owner’s behalf until the card is reported stolen.

Although single transactions are limited to £30 on contactless, it is possible for multiple transactions to be made over the course of a day. Research from Which? reveals that is possible to spend more than £200 on a stolen contactless card over a few hours without ever being asked to produce a PIN. And in January 2018, MoneySavingExpert discovered that it is possible to make purchases on a contactless card even after the card has been reported stolen.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that contactless card fraud is on the rise. Indeed, last year, Financial Fraud Action UK released figures which show that contactless card fraud skyrocketed 150% in twelve months – from £2.8 million in 2015 to £6.9 million in 2016.

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(Image source: bbc.co.uk)

The Da Vinci Choice Card – The Secure Solution for Contactless Card Payments

Everybody loves the convenience of contactless payments – and so do we. But there is a pressing need for the security to be enhanced.

The Da Vinci Choice card offers the perfect solution for secure contactless payments. Containing its own battery, eInk display screen, numerical touch keypad, microprocessor and supporting electronic components, the Da Vinci Choice card is a sophisticated electronic payment device that comes with a whole host of enhanced personal protection and security features.

Users can link up to eight of their existing funding cards into the one, and all cards can then be used simultaneously to fund the Da Vinci Choice card to pay for goods and services wherever Mastercard® is accepted.

When it comes to making a contactless payment, users must first turn on their Da Vinci Choice card, select the funding card they wish to use to make the payment and then enter their secret four-digit Da Vinci PIN into the back of the card itself. This all takes a matter of seconds and can be completed while waiting in-line at a shop. All you do then is pass the Da Vinci Choice card over the card reader, and the contactless payment is complete.

(Video source: youtube.com)

Register for Your Da Vinci Choice Card Today

The Da Vinci Choice card contactless solution provides the perfect balance between convenience and risk. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if you ever have your purse or wallet stolen, for, without your secret Da Vinci PIN, no one will be able to use your Da Vinci Choice card – nor any of the funding cards you’ve linked to it – except you. And that’s something that no other chip & PIN card offers.

Launching in in 2018, go contactless with confidence and register for your Da Vinci Choice card today. 

Written by: Simon Hewitt, CEO,

Simon founded Da Vinci based on his passion and expertise in the information and financial security. As a leader in his field, he loves to write about his observations in order to help progress the industry as a whole.