Using a credit card is no longer a case of just swipe and sign. A combination of problems with fraud and the ever-busier lifestyles we lead is behind the design of more options for processing a purchase than most of us would care to think about.
Not only do we need to decide whether to use cash, credit, debit or EFTPOS, we now have to make even more decisions at the point of purchase. For instance when credit is chosen, we are faced with options to swipe the magnetic strip, dip the chip into the reader, or ‘tap’ or ‘wave’ the card past the contactless reader.
The following explanations should clear up any confusion:
- PIN: These are used to speed up and simplify the transaction process. Consumers should be aware that they are liable for transactions where a PIN is used, so keep them safe. Most people have had plenty of practice with this through their EFTPOS cards.
- CHIP: These are used as an alternative to the magnetic strip where possible, and reduce the chance of card skimming, where credit card details are compromised by illegal scams. Australia is in the changeover period and will continue to be at risk of skimming until all cards, ATMs and EFTPOS terminals are chip enabled. The latest high profile scam saw around $2.5 million lost due to a skimming operation through Western Australian McDonalds outlets.
- CONTACTLESS PAYMENT: This is done through Visa’s Paywave and MasterCard’s Paypass. The card is held against the reader for at least one second and the payment is processed. Transactions under $35 do not require a signature, increasing efficiency for small transactions. The technology is best suited to high volume, low spend outlets such as cafes, fast food outlets, and convenience stores.
Payments processing is now in the awkward puberty phase, with new developments that have not made a full transition into the retail area yet. Safe and efficient is the noble end goal of the change, but this requires further hardware rollouts and better education – for both consumers and retail staff alike. Watch this space