Johannesburg, South Africa, 11 June 2018 – For many people, paying with a card is still associated with a “swipe” or a “dip”. However, the owners of more than 370 million contactless cards accepted in over eight million locations in 111 countries can today pay with a simple tap.

South Africans, too, are starting to enjoy the benefits of ‘contactless’ payments. You simply tap your card against the card machine at the point of sale for transactions of up to R500 – no swiping, signatures or PIN codes required; for transaction above that amount you can still tap and enter your PIN. Mastercard’s contactless technology is giving you the reassurance that it is both safe and easy to pay with a tap.

The cards and devices contain an embedded chip and a radio frequency (RFID) antenna that provide a wireless link with the contactless reader. When the card or device is tapped against the reader, information is securely transmitted within a fraction of a second. Here are three ways Mastercard ensures that contactless payments are safe:

  • Contactless payments require different information to those made over the phone or online. Your name, the three-digit security code on the back of the card, and billing information like your address are never transmitted. Instead, along with the account information, a one-time-only code is sent from the card or device to the reader to identify each transaction.

  • Working with issuers, retailers and payment service providers, Mastercard uses robust fraud detection systems and artificial intelligence to spot suspicious activity and stop fraud in its tracks.

  • If your card is compromised, you are protected with a global zero liability promise and will not be liable for unauthorised charges.

Let’s take a look at the myths and the realities of contactless payments:

A thief can easily electronically pickpocket your contactless card or device. There are smartphone applications that enable the phone to read some data from a contactless enabled card or device, but they can only read the account number and expiration date. The thief would need to be physically close to the card to get this information.
If a thief intercepts your contactless information, they can create a counterfeit card to use in a store.When a contactless transaction takes place, the card or device provides the reader with a dynamic, one-time-only number that identifies each transaction. It would be nearly impossible for a fraudster to copy the encryption technology used to generate this dynamic number and create a functioning counterfeit version of a contactless card.
Even if a thief can’t counterfeit your card, they can make purchases online or by phone.For a purchase to be authenticated and authorised via phone or online, several pieces of information must be presented, including the three-digit code on the back of a card, and your name and billing address. Since the card or device does not send the code, billing address or postal code information or name over the contactless interface, the thief won’t have the information typically needed to conduct payment transactions, either in person, on the phone or online.
You are responsible for purchases made by thieves if they steal your card informationMastercard protects consumers against fraudulent charges with a global zero liability policy. That means you are not held liable for unauthorised fraudulent transactions.
In addition to stealing your card data, thieves can also steal your identity.Mastercard contactless cards and devices do not transmit information about the cardholder, such as name or address, so there is very little risk of actual identity theft.

Knowing all the facts (and seeing through the fiction) will help ease your mind if you have a contactless card.

About Mastercard

Mastercard,, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter: @MastercardMEA and @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the MEA Engagement Bureau.


Mastercard communications contact

Kershnee Govender, +2783 564 4090,
Birgit Deibele