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The Pitfalls of Tap-and-Go: A Cautionary Tale

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South Africa’s sophisticated banking system has allowed consumers to opt into multiple payment methods, all suited to their lifestyles and personal choices. The Mastercard 2022 survey found that 95% of South African consumers used at least one digital payment method, while the National Treasury announced that it was promoting cashless payment methods for low-value payments with tap-and-go cards. Woolworths announced it was going cashless in its WCcafé’s and FNB said cashless payments in 2023 accounted for 50% of its card payments.

Card Tapping New Scam


The ease of tap-and-go payments may inadvertently expose consumers to fraudulent schemes, where perpetrators exploit the swift nature of transactions to conduct unauthorized charges. Frost paints a vivid scenario where a seemingly innocuous interaction at a petrol station can turn into a nightmare for the unsuspecting consumer. With just a tap of their card, they inadvertently provide an opportunity for fraudsters to siphon funds, leaving them none the wiser until it’s too late.

The absence of transaction limits on many cards exacerbates this vulnerability, allowing fraudsters to make sizable withdrawals with a single tap. The repercussions can be dire, leaving victims with drained bank accounts and little recourse for restitution. Frost’s cautionary tale underscores a pressing concern – the inadequacy of security measures to safeguard consumers in the age of rapid digital payments.

While FNB has taken a proactive stance by discontinuing tap-and-go functionality, Frost advocates for individual vigilance and proactive measures. Disabling tap functionality on cards and leveraging secure alternatives like mobile payment services offer a semblance of protection against fraudulent activities. By prioritizing security over convenience, consumers can mitigate risks and safeguard their financial well-being.

In navigating the evolving landscape of digital payments, consumers must exercise caution and adopt strategies to fortify their defenses. From utilizing chip and pin authentication for high-value transactions to embracing mobile payment solutions with enhanced security features, proactive measures are imperative to thwart potential threats. Ultimately, fostering a culture of vigilance and prudence is paramount to navigate the digital realm safely and securely.

By Richard Frost, Product Head at Armata

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