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By Our Reporter
Absa Bank Uganda recently unveiled contactless vertical Visa debit cards and point-of-sale (POS) machines. The contactless functionality enables customers to make payments by simply ‘tapping’ the card on a contactless enabled POS terminal once the card has been enabled.
The contactless solution comes at a time when there is an increased need for the adoption of cashless payment options in the face of growing safety concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be spread through touching infected objects and surfaces.
Why get the Contactless Card?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is need to limit contact with other people and the contactless card addresses this as it’s only the customer that touches the card, thus reducing the chances of viral infection from contact with infected hands and objects.
Furthermore, contactless payments are faster and more convenient, as customers experience shorter queues, a faster ‘check-out’ process and no longer need to carry around a lot of cash to perform daily transactions.
There are also reduced chances for fraud as the card never leaves the customer’s hand and is designed with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which encrypts each transaction and ensures that account and payment information remain secure.
How to identify a Contactless Card
The Contactless Card is essentially no different from the other VISA Debit cards in terms of physical appearance.
They all have similar features including a magstripe, microchip, account number, and CVV2 code among others.
The only differentiating feature between the cards is a Wi-Fi symbol in the front top corner of the contactless card.
However, the card has to be enabled first before one can perform any contactless transactions.
To enable the card for contactless transactions, the customers will have to first use an Absa payment device or transact via an Absa ATM. Once this is done, the customer will then perform up to two more chip-and-PIN (swipe) transactions to enable the card for contactless payments.
How the card works?
While checking out at a contactless-enabled POS terminal, the merchant will simply key in the amount to be paid and then a Wifi sign will appear on the machine, meaning that it is enabled to accept contactless payments.
All the customer will then need to do is bring their contactless-enabled card near the POS machine (about 2 inches) and the payment will then been authorized, without being requested to put in their PIN.
When your contactless card is brought in range with the contactless-enabled device after the merchant has initiated the transaction, the two exchange the necessary details needed to complete the transaction.
The contactless card uses Near Field Communication which is a technology that allows wireless data transfer over a short range.
The chip on the card operates as one part of a wireless link. Once it’s activated by another chip, small amounts of data between the two devices can be transferred when held a few inches from each other.
How secure is the card?
Because payments are completed without need for PIN approval, the bank has a range of controls and checks to ensure safe and secure transactions.
For instance, when the transaction is completed, the customer receives an instant SMS notification notifying them about the details of the transaction by the card. In case they are not aware of the transaction, they can then contact the bank to block the card.
Also the card is configured with limits on how much one can transact at a time as well as the number of transactions they can make in the day. The number of transactions one can make in a day are intermittent. For instance a customer may do two transactions and on their third transaction, they are asked to put in their PIN to approve transaction.
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