What are RFID Credit Cards?

Radio Frequency Identification technology is used in a major area of payment collection especially through credit cards. This technology is easy to implement and use, comfortable and inexpensive. Credit cards with Radio Frequency Identification were started first commercially in 2005 and have since been used successfully.  Major companies like Chase, MasterCard in the form of “Pay-pass” and American express in the form of “Express Pay” are using the RFID credit cards.

Credit cards using RFID are said to be based on Blink technology. The Blink Technology works on the lines of RFID. A Blink Credit card contains an RFID chip which is read by the RFID reader of the vendor. The reading need not be done through the card touching the reader. The reader then sends on the information contained in the chip for the transactions to be processed. The transaction is then carried out by the vendor.

The blink technology is said to be using a specific type of RFID. This is approved of International standards through ISO 14443 . This RFID is encrypted and has a short transmission range of about 4 inches. These properties are suited for the purpose of a safe transaction of the sensitive information. The blink cards come in the normal credit card size of 3.375×2.125 inches.  The cost per transaction cash back for the salesperson is less than half for Blink technology as compared to normal credit cards being typically around 1.5%.

                                                                                                Working of RFID Credit Card

RFID Credit cards

Benefits of RFID credit Cards

No swapping required – The major advantage of using RFID based Credit cards is that they need not be swapped by the machine. It only has to be waved in front of a reader which detects it in no time. The credit card is tagged by a reader rather than transacted through the usual process. Therefore no bill has to be signed by the user either. Overall 20% of time of the user is saved in the process.

Draws more sale for the vendors – Various card making companies have analyzed that RFID credit cards tend to draw more sale. Research Studies show that spending through MasterCard’s Paypass is 25% higher than a normal MasterCard. This suits the vendor as well as the demand-supply increases.

Safe from Cloning threat -Another advantage of RFID based technology is that during the transaction the card never leaves the user’s hands. Therefore fraud cases in which the cards were swapped through forged devices are prevented. The magnetic strip based credit cards could be easily cloned .It had critical information like name of the holder, CVV number, date of expiry, etc.
The RFID credit cards used today contains both the magnetic strip as well as the RFID transponder which makes the card safer from cloning. RFID transponder also generates a dynamic CVV number which adds to the safety.

Relatively Longer Life Time – RFID credit cards further provide the advantage of increasing the life time of the credit card. The credit card does not simply stop working if the magnetic strip is non-operational.

Issues with RFID credit cards

RFID credit cards are much easier to handle for the customer as well as the salesperson. However skepticism prevails as to whether the technology is safe and credible enough to be used. Some of the issues related to RFID Credit Cards are:

  • Young Technology – Since Blink technology is relatively new, RFID credit cards cannot be used everywhere. The technology is still in its early stages. 
  • Credit Card Theft – A shortcoming of RFID credit card today is the fact that the tap and go style of credit card can be intercepted easily. This is because of the fact that the tags can be read by anyone who possesses a reader.  Therefore it is fairly manageable to hack into the information of the card carrier. And the hacker can then endlessly use the credit card. However no such instance has been recorded.
  • Involuntary Multiple Reading – There is also a possibility of the card being read multiple times by readers placed near each other (nearly 4 inches apart) in the same transaction.
  • Unconcerned with Account details – RFID credit cards do not require any account specific details at the time of transaction. Thus the credit card can be used by any user who may have the possession of the card regardless of the owner of the card.

Way Out of limitations- One of the ways to limit theft is by making the card touch sensitive. If touch sensibility is used then the card can only be used by its owner. Otherwise the card is switched off.  This technology is easy and comfortable to implement.

Future oF RFID Credit Cards

Though RFID has its share of Pros and Cons, there is no denial to the fact that it makes the transactions a lot easier and comfortable. This is for both the buyer and the seller. With increasing sophistication, RFID credit card technology can become safer and much more reliable. Views differ as to whether RFID credit cards are already safer than its predecessor. In the near future, with the evolution of RFID so would Blink technology evolve.  

The RFID readers are easily available even at eBay and the credits cards are now made by most of the major card companies like Chase and MasterCard. It should not take long for these cards to be used by a wider base. From its first wide commercial release in mid-2005 till 2012, the usage of blink cards have certainly increased multifold times. In 2005 itself major companies endorsing RFID credit cards began replacing the orthodox cards with Blink. This has spread to most countries in seven years. Some nations like UK and USA are using it in common places like restaurants and theatres. As of June 2010 major card owner Barclaycard had around 9.6 million RFID credit cards and in 2006 Chase had 5 million cards in California, USA .

These statistics indicate that RFID Credit cards is an innovation that is here to stay in the future. Not only is it easy and comfortable, it is also affordable and can be easily implemented.