It’s Time to Drop The Mag Strip

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Looking back to just a few years ago in which lawmakers decided to move the U.S. forward into the future with regards to credit/debit cards. Business owners panicked as they would have to upgrade their aging, antiqued mag strip card readers with newer chip card readers. Large businesses balked at having to spend money in order to comply as they didn’t see a need to upgrade a system that was seemingly reliable to them. Unfortunately those mag strip card readers were less than secure and who hasn’t had to have the cashier hand you a plastic bag in order for your card to be read by the machine. Never thought those bags were magical but, they did the trick on many occasions.

The problem is that mag strip card readers are susceptible to being tampered with. Evidence is everywhere as your local police and sheriff’s constantly trying to inform the population to give the gas station pump’s reader a jiggle and tug before sliding your card into it. Card skimmers are notoriously easy to place onto the card reader and record hundreds of numbers for the thief to use or most likely sell off to others. By moving to the chip cards, there is a slightly higher level of security. Mostly the incentive to move away from mag strip fell to the banks who in the past would have to take responsibility of any fraudulent charges reported by consumers. With chip cards that burden fell onto the retailers shoulders. Even to this day you may come across a retailer that has a newer card reader but, the chip portion is disabled.

Throughout most of the modern world, contact less payment options have been the norm for close to a decade. Credit cards with embedded chips make it possible to simply tap and pay at the grocer, gas station and restaurants. With the advent of Google Pay and Apple Pay, NFC technology has made it even easier to forgo leaving your house with your wallet. It’s unfortunate that many retailers had chosen to refuse NFC payments when Apple came onto the scene while a select few enjoyed the benefits of Google Wallet prior. These retailers turned off the option, opting to state that the system wasn’t compatible with the likes of NFC tap and pay. The game was in full force as to who controlled consumer data and retailers were liking the idea of being the keepers of said data while NFC payment systems protected consumer data.

Luckily the tide is slowly turning back to the consumers as Target recently changed their mind in so that consumers would be able to Apple Pay and Google Pay at the registers. Even CVS who were very bullish have turned around. There are a few holdouts like Wal-Mart who flatly refuse to allow NFC payments but have gone fully in their in-house payment system using QR code based system.

The take away is that by using a NFC pay system you, the consumer have the power in keeping your credit and debit card information off the databases of retailers who have had breaches in the past. Now the next step is to adapt at table payments in restaurants, instead of handing your card to a stranger for them to disappear in the back for minutes at a time. Hopefully within the next decade the U.S. could move in that direction.


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