Taking the pain out of payments
Where AmaTech really scores is its innovative technology for the new contactless payment cards. As Rafferty explains, the new cards incorporate a wire antenna that runs around the card near its edge and is connected to the chip which contains all of the payment and account information.
Normal usage, however, presents certain difficulties for this arrangement.
“Modern cards are dual interface cards,” he points out. “They have the traditional chip and PIN payment system where you put the card into the reader and enter your PIN.
“They also have RFID [radio frequency identifier] technology built in to allow for contactless payment. Contactless payment doesn’t require a PIN and just involves the cardholder passing it over or near a reader. This speeds up transactions enormously. It has been estimated that a standard chip and PIN payment takes about 40 seconds to execute but a contactless payment takes about 15.”
This is very important for businesses with high volumes of relatively low-value transactions and the new technology is already in widespread use in popular fast-food chains and coffee shops in the US. It is also gaining in popularity in Europe and many Irish retailers are installing the technology.
The problem with normal usage is the way people use the cards. “They put the cards in wallets where they get bent and putting them in ATMs and so on causes wear and tear as well,” Rafferty explains. “Over time this can break the connection between the antenna and the chip and this means the contactless payments function will no longer operate and people will have to replace cards with all the inconvenience and expense that causes. We have enhanced the quality and reliability of cards with our reactive coupling technology which removes the need to interconnect the outer antenna with the chip. This means that the cards are much better able to withstand the stresses of normal usage.”
And the potential market for this new technology is truly massive with growth being driven not just by the technical innovation of contactless payments but by changes to the actual payments system itself.
Rafferty points out that a major liability change is due to occur in the US in October 2015. This will fundamentally change the status of old-style magnetic stripe cards. Currently, if any card – chip and PIN or magnetic stripe only – is physically used for payment at a retail outlet and the payment subsequently turns out to have been fraudulent the card issuer is liable for the loss. The cardholder and the retailer bear no liability.