Contactless payments, once a futuristic idea, have now become a routine part of many people’s daily lives. Powered by NFC technology, these payments provide a seamless and efficient method for consumers to complete transactions, sometimes without even taking out their wallets.
Who Invented Contactless Payment?
Birth of NFC
Near-field communication (NFC) is the brainchild behind the rise of contactless payments. This wireless data transmission technology has the power to exchange information between devices over short distances, up to 10 cm, without the need for an Internet connection.
The first-ever foray into this domain was in South Korea, back in 1995. It was here that the Seoul Bus Transportation Association introduced the UPass card. This innovative card lets passengers make contactless payments for their journeys, marking the advent of such technology. Not to be left behind, in 1997, Mobil took a cue and rolled out contactless payment technology, allowing motorists to pay for fuel without waiting in lines at gas stations.
The Coalition of Tech Giants
2004 was a significant year for NFC and contactless payment. Sony, Nokia, and NXP Semiconductors came together to establish the NFC Forum. Their collective mission was simple yet ambitious: promote NFC technology across consumer electronics, mobile devices, and computers. The same year, the US saw the birth of contactless bank cards. By 2008, heavyweights like Mastercard, Visa, and American Express not only launched debit but also credit contactless cards.
Mobile Devices Join The Bandwagon
In a landmark move, Nokia released the 6131 in 2006 – the very first mobile device equipped with NFC functionality. Soon after, Russia embraced this trend. By 2013, Moscow’s metro, Aeroexpress turnstiles, and select bus routes in its region supported contactless payment. The Universiade held in Kazan in 2013 further pushed the envelope. For the event, multiservice contactless cards were issued, simplifying access to sports facilities, transportation, and ticket purchases for competitions.
Why Smartphones Managed to Replace Wallets
Major tech companies discerned a growing trend: people might forget their wallets at home, but seldom their smartphones. This realization sparked innovations such as Google Wallet in 2011, followed by Apple’s response, Apple Pay, in 2014. The adaptability and ease of use of these platforms ensured that smartphones started playing a significant role in contactless payments. By 2015, EMV technology emerged, emphasizing security and boosting the worldwide adoption of NFC payments.
How does Contactless Payment Work?
At its core, contactless payment is a simple process, but behind the scenes, it’s a blend of sophisticated technology. Payment cards equipped with RFID or similar devices can communicate with point-of-sale terminals without any physical contact. A distinctive symbol, reminiscent of a tilted WiFi logo, signifies the presence of this technology on terminals.
To make a payment, customers simply bring their card or device near this symbol on the terminal. A beep or green light usually indicates a successful transaction. While card payments have certain transaction size limits, using smartphones, smartwatches, or fitness trackers can sometimes circumvent these constraints.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Contactless Payment
Contactless payments have revolutionized the way consumers transact by enhancing security. Traditional magnetic stripe cards are susceptible to cloning, leading to potential fraud and identity theft. In contrast, contactless payments use encryption, making data interception a significant challenge for miscreants.
However, like all technologies, it’s not devoid of flaws. There remains a minor risk of card skimming, although the stolen data can’t replicate the original card. The advent of chip and PIN cards further increases security, and protective measures like card sleeves are available to guard against unauthorized data access.
How Safe Is Contactless Payment?
Contactless payment is often heralded as one of the safest transaction methods available. Every transaction produces a unique encrypted code, making duplication by hackers near impossible. Yet, the absence of a PIN in contactless payments means that lost or stolen cards can be misused. However, with rapid advancements in technology, this minor setback is constantly being addressed to ensure a secure and efficient transaction environment.
The world of payments has seen a monumental shift over the years. What began as a mere concept in South Korea has now mushroomed into a global phenomenon. As we advance, it’s only a matter of time before we see further innovations, making our transactions even more effortless and secure.
What was the first ever contactless payment?
The first recorded contactless payment was made by the Seoul Bus Transport Association in 1995.
Timeline of Key Contactless Innovations:
|Seoul Bus Transport Association introduces contactless payment.
|Barclaycard introduces the OnePulse card in the UK.
|Contactless payment limit increased to £15.
|Barclaycard and Orange launch world’s first mobile payment device – Quick Tap.
|Barclaycard introduces wearable payment tech in the UK.
What is the contactless limit in the US?
The contactless limit in the US is 200 USD, approximately £146.
How do I use contactless credit cards?
You can make a payment by hovering your contactless credit card over the screen of the point-of-sale or card terminal. Ensure you look for the contactless indicator symbol to confirm the terminal’s compatibility.