The COVID-19 pandemic has led many people to prefer contactless payments over cash. More and more people are using their iPhone to make contactless payments with Apple Pay. But can you really trust him? After all, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your financial information.
Here’s what you need to know about Apple Pay, and whether it’s secure enough to link a credit or debit card to your iPhone.
What is Apple Pay?
Apple Pay is a digital payment system that allows users to purchase items or transfer money using their Apple devices linked to their credit or debit cards. This beats having to carry cash or debit and credit cards because your iPhone or Apple Watch can make all contactless payments.
Apple Pay is currently available in more than 20 countries and is in the Wallet app for any Apple device — including iPhones, iPads, watches, and Macs.
Does Apple Pay store your credit card details?
How does Apple Pay work? When you first set up a card with Apple Pay, it asks for your card number, expiration date, and CVV code to verify the card with your bank. This is only a one-time thing for authentication, and the details are not stored with Apple. So Apple Pay doesn’t share these details when you make a transaction.
Instead, it uses a process called “tokenization”, which generates a unique one-time passcode every time you make a transaction.
In addition, Apple Pay also requires additional verification, such as Touch ID or Face ID, before completing a purchase. In this way, they can often protect your financial information better than credit cards.
Apple does not store or access the original credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers that you use with Apple Pay. Because your card information is not stored on your devices or Apple’s servers, none of this information is shared with retailers.
The contactless payment system also prevents your information from being passed on by the skimming device.
Apple Pay itself does not have any spending limits; However, stores and retailers may impose a limit on the use of contactless feature which usually depends on the laws of individual countries. For example, you may need to provide a signature for purchases over $50 in the US when using Apple Pay.
Likewise, the general limit for Apple Pay transactions in the UK is £100. Apple keeps a full list of potential restrictions for each country you can go through.
Is Apple Pay Express Transfer Safe?
No payment system is 100 percent secure, and each has its own weaknesses and drawbacks. With that in mind, Apple Pay is still very secure.
However, some researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey have discovered a potential flaw in Apple Pay’s VISA Express Transit system.
Express Transit allows users to pay for transit systems without authenticating the payment using Face ID or Touch ID as they normally would with any other transaction. This is intended to reduce entry or exit times to transit gates. To do this, all you have to do is tap your device to the wireless card reader, which automatically authenticates the payment.
Researchers were able to trick the iPhone into thinking it was communicating with a transit gateway when it was, in fact, a payment reader used by stores. This was done by defining a unique code broadcast by the crossing gates or turnstiles, which was then used to interfere with the signals between the iPhone and the store card reader.
Interestingly, the defect was found only on VISA cards that were set up using Express Transit mode. Researchers have warned that the problem could be exploited to make transactions from an iPhone inside someone’s bag or pocket without their knowledge.
The researchers say they have reached out to Apple and Visa about their concerns, but the issue has not been resolved at the time of writing. Visa considers this type of attack to be “impractical”:
“Various forms of contactless fraud schemes have been studied in laboratory settings for more than a decade and have proven impractical for large-scale implementation in the real world.”
Apple’s view on the issue was similar:
“We take any threat to our users’ security very seriously. This is a concern of the Visa system but Visa does not believe that this type of fraud is likely to occur in the real world given the multiple layers of security in place.”
There is no evidence to suggest that this method is being used in the real world by criminals to make unauthorized payments or defraud consumers.
What do the banks say?
Banks have generally affirmed their belief in Apple Pay, with many having public web pages to support the payment system.
Barclays, a UK-based international bank, says Apple Pay is extremely secure because it uses a unique device account number. However, she also recommends keeping your card secure by choosing a device passcode that only you know and storing your fingerprint in Apple Pay.
How to keep your Apple Pay secure
Apple Pay is a very secure payment method for in-store, in-app and online shopping. But even its advanced data security approach will not be effective if you do not use common sense and remember best practices around financial transactions.
Never transfer money to unknown websites or make payments at suspicious points of sale (POS). And always check your payment amounts before tapping your device. This should help you keep your money safe, and allow you to get the most out of contactless payments.
In the event that you feel that you have been cheated or an unauthorized amount has been deducted from your account via Apple Pay, be sure to confirm this from the Wallet app’s transaction list, then call your list to cancel the transaction.
Is Apple Pay secure?
Apple Pay is one of the newer contactless payment technologies, and it makes sense that some are skeptical about its safety. We feel the system is very secure, and this has been proven by the eagerness of banks to adopt the technology and the expansion of Apple Pay to many countries around the world.
Other wallet activities such as Apple Cash are also proven to be secure.
A great deal of Apple Pay’s security depends on how you use it. So focus on using it with caution, awareness, and care, and you should be fine.
No matter how secure Apple Pay is, you should still disable it if you lose your iPhone or Apple Watch.
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