Mr Bank Manager, help yourself to my smartphone contents
Bend over for a thorough digital rogering
Something for the Weekend, Sir? Hacking through the 1,100 press releases waiting for me upon my return from vacation has been a daunting task and has, as yet, revealed few surprises. Once I disposed of the misdirected (“I thought you might be interested in a case study from Golfbreaks.com...”) and semi-literate (“Hi hope your well?”) missives, most of the remainder appear to be anticipated product launch updates and scores of less-than-fascinating VP appointments.
To be fair, August is a challenging month for selling anything other than flipflops. Not to worry, though: the computer silly season begins shortly, with lots of appropriately gadgety products being announced, specifically targeting shut-ins and Johnny-no-mates in the run-up to Christmas. Note how Apple prefers to launch iPhones during this period.
One press release that did stand out was one about LevelUp, an American pay-by-phone ‘innovator’. It initially stood out because of its striking lack of newsworthiness.
Big in Japan: NFC everywhere
I am not criticising LevelUp for entering the market for smartphone-based payment transaction systems or for trying to publicise itself as a fairly new startup business during the traditional summer lull. What grabbed my attention was the implication that the concept of till transactions by mobile phone was new and that fulfilment products were just around the corner.
Any visitor to Japan over the last few years is likely to have witnessed teenagers paying for things in shops with their mobile handsets already. Perhaps “just around the corner” is a literal geographic expression by which American ‘innovators’ mean “head across the Pacific ocean and turn left when you see the China coast”. In fact, there are heaps of these products in the West too, ready and working today, from Google Wallet to Quick Tap.
But what singled out the LevelUp announcement for me was the worrying blind acceptance of its inevitability. We’ve been phasing out handwritten cheques in favour of credit cards, and now we’re sleepwalking past contactless credit card transactions straight to contactless mobile handset transactions. It’s all very gadgety and sci-fi, sure, but it’s also utter madness.
Welcome to the Bank of Google: here, interest takes on a whole new meaning
I want to believe that contactless transactions are secure but please forgive me for having doubts about the security effectiveness of all banking systems, and much more so when communication is sent wirelessly to a half-broken shop till staffed by a 16-year-old casual who couldn’t care whether you dropped your phone or dropped dead.
Next page: The ghost in the machine
> Hi hope your well?
Um.. hi. I don't know who you are, and you appear to have prematurely hit the "Send" button before making the enquiry about my well. Yes, it's a standard stone-block lined well, and is currently up for sale (buyer collects).
No one ever heard of long range RFID????
I assume you have RFID for highway tolls in the UK like we have using "Easy Pass". Reads the card on the window or license plate as you drive 90 mph.
With a little hacking, those same large high power antennae can read your card right in your pocket as you walk down the street. The power for the card signal comes via induction from the reader not the card. The higher the power, the greater to distance between the card and reader can be.
What's to stop a slightly smaller high power version from scanning your card in a crowded subway or bar?
Absolutely nothing, and phone companies are not regulated like banks and credit card companies are so you stand a very good chance of never recovering that money.
"head across the Pacific ocean and turn left when you see the China coast”
Didn't you mean turn right?
I thought of making the same post, and then thought "Nah, that's too pedantic even for the Reg." I'm glad there's someone equally pedantic out there!
Well I just got a replacement card from my bank with contactless payment technology in, interesting conversation with them about why I just wanted one without. Eventually they agreed to send one out without it (did mention closing all my accounts with them).
I do not understand why they think this is a secure way of making payments? The blurb that came with it said your pin will be requested for the first few transactions but after that probably not required, this is a recipe for fraud albeit only upto £15-20 per transaction at the moment. No doubt limits will go up same way as they do on your credit card.
This reminds me of the incidents that Tesco had when the automated tills were first introduced, they didn't need a PIN to be entered for small transaction values, they got ripped off and had to modify the tills to require a PIN for all transactions.
De Ja Vu all over again..