5 Comments

Summary:

Don’t swipe that phone literally; we aren’t condoning mobile phone theft here! No, we’re talking about swiping your phone over a Master Card Mobile PayPass Terminal. I use a similar technique with the RFID tag in my American Express card to save from swiping the magnetic […]

Mobile_pay_passDon’t swipe that phone literally; we aren’t condoning mobile phone theft here! No, we’re talking about swiping your phone over a Master Card Mobile PayPass Terminal. I use a similar technique with the RFID tag in my American Express card to save from swiping the magnetic strip, for example.

According to DigiTimes, a similar technology was launched by Taiwan Mobile using the Nokia 3220 handset. It certainly saves you from carrying that credit card, but makes it even more important to guard that phone since you typically don’t need a signature for this transaction. Maybe we need LoJack in our phones and not just in our laptops….either way: is this something of interest to you as a consumer? I’ll all for never carrying cash again myself….

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  1. I like the concept, but I think it will open up another possible security breach. RFID sniffing…

  2. I’m of mixed emotions on this, too. It’s great as long as *you* are the only one who can use *your* phone to do that — if someone else has your phone, it should *not* work, unless you have somehow specifically authorized that person to use your phone in that way. Until they can make the technology safer than “cash,” it doesn’t seem to me to be much better — it’s just one more thing to have to be careful with. It may be slightly more convenient (although, I’m not even convinced that is the case), but not enough to overcome that drawback, IMO.

  3. I don’t know if you are familiar with Hong Kong’s “Octopus Card” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopus_card), but it is probably the best example of a well-implemented and successful RFID contactless payment system. The card (available as a phone too, among other forms) was released in 1997 and has been wildly successful, with convenience stores, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, coffee shops, and many other stores adopting it as a method of payment. It is actually primarily a transit card, not a credit card, used to pay for fares on all forms of public transportation. As such, the card is an anonymous, stored-value card (which requires you to either add value regularly or set up an automatic add value service with a bank) and it can only store up to $1000 HK (approximately $130 US). Perhaps that’s the reason why, as far as I know, they have never had any security issues like RFID sniffing. In fact, some offices, schools, and residential buildings have adopted it as a security access system (and in the case of schools, and attendance-taking system as well). Perhaps this is the way to go for the rest of the world, given the greater security risks with making credit cards RFID-enabled – I believe banks have attempted to implement a similar program in Hong Kong and failed, probably because of the success of the Octopus card. People in Hong Kong are still carrying cash – but certainly carrying a lot less change.

  4. Am I correct in thinking that the Octopus Cards still have value that anyone can use if lost or stolen (assuming the prepaid amount has not been depleted)? Chicago has had a prepaid card payment scheme for its public transportation system since about 1995 or so (it hasn’t caught on with other vendors like the Octopus card). It seemed like one of my friends was always losing their card (typically, right after recharging it with the maximum amount).

    I’m not sure how this solves the security problem. All it does is “limit” the problem by not allowing one to carry more than a certain amount.

  5. You’re right, the remaining value on an Octopus card can still be lost. But the security problem is not merely limited merely because of the limitations on the amount of money you could potentially lose. This limitation also decreases the incentive for would-be criminals to crack the system or steal your card. Furthermore, unlike a credit card, the card is anonymous, making the loss of a card or RFID sniffing far less serious issues.

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