(Posted by Michael Plasmeier, Maya Bustan, Iulian Pogor, Tal Snir)
RFID-enhanced contactless cards might be the future of payment, but they certainly are not the present. Credit card companies have faced continuous challenges in the United States when introducing contactless payments methods. In 2006, the major card associations agreed to standards for use in the United States and cards were rolled out.
Unfortunately, the cards provided weren’t satisfactory in terms of protecting the identity and credit card information of the user. This led to negative publicity for contactless picked up by mainstream media. Consumers’ concern that thieves would be able to capture their payment information outweighed the potential benefit of faster check out times for small purchases.
Regardless, contactless payment systems are currently seeing a resurgence in popularity. In addition to start ups like Bling Nation that is focusing on smaller businesses and communities, many banks and card issuers are developing/offering cards with contactless capability.
In spite of the growing buzz and opportunity for contactless cards, the authors of this post have found that it is actually quite difficult to obtain a contactless card in the US. We were unable to even find, much less apply for a Chase “Blink” credit card. Searching for “Blink” on Chase’s site led to a dead link. While attempting to apply for a PayPass MasterCard, we could see a selection of several cards, but we ran into errors when attempting to apply. Applying for a Visa PayWave card was partially successful. One bank told us that the offer was no longer available, but Wells Fargo appeared to be issuing PayWave cards.
Are standards and technology to blame for the slow adoption? Or are their other issues at play?