How tap-to-pay/contactless cards work

Have you ever wanted to pay for something in a store or restaurant then instead of swiping or inserting your debit or credit card into a card reader the cashier or waiter simply tapped your card on it? That transaction was powered by what is known as tap-to-pay/contactless technology. So what is tap-to-pay/contactless technology? This is a technology that allows you to pay for your favorite goods and services by just tapping your debit or credit card or phone on a point-of-sale terminal or card reader.

How does it work?⚙️

To understand how tap-to-pay/contactless technology works you first need to understand how a debit or credit card is built.

A debit or credit card consists of a chip, magnetic stripe, account number, your name and an expiration date. Information such as name, account number and expiration date is stored and emitted by the chip and the magnetic strip on the back of the card. The chip not only sends static information but also sends a cryptogram which is a unique set of numbers to verify that your card is valid.

Tap-to-pay or contactless cards work with a technology called NFC (Near Field Communication). Card readers and point-of-sale terminals have NFC antennas. These antennas are active and look for a card within a short range of about a maximum of 4cm via a radio frequency specific to the NFC device. When the card reader finds your card it requests the information stored in your card’s chip which is the static information and the cryptogram. When the card reader gets this information it puts it into an encrypted package which is sent out to your bank’s server and networks then the transaction is made.

Tap-to-pay or contactless is groundbreaking tech that makes transactions faster, more efficient and safer. If you found this article interesting, useful or informative please feel free to share. Thanks for reading and see you in the next one🙏.


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