Uneducated truth of PayWave and PayPass

By | August 7, 2014

The other day there was a discussion about PayWave and PayPass on Facebook. A discussion that I tried to chime into and educate the people that were spreading misinformation. The point of this post is about how here, in Australia our PayWave and PayPass cards use NFC, instead of RFID or EMV like what is primarily used within the US, Japan, Europe and the UK.

For those that don’t know, Near Field Communication (or NFC for short) operates at 13.56MHz and allows two-way communication (unlike RFID), only supports a single transaction at a time, and only works within close proximity which is up to 10cm. In terms of PayPass and PayWave though, the distance is within 4cm of the terminal.

This is more likely due to the induction loop in the card, with the power being transmitted from the terminal being so low, the card won’t work over 4cm, even in an ideal world it is more realistically 2-3cm. When I have ever used PayPass it has always been the “within 4cm” as like what is stated on the VISA PayWave website. I’ve never had one be read by a terminal over that distance.

I figured I would add some of the screenshots from the Facebook conversation, with names obviously disguised.

PayWave 1

I’m asking a logical question.

PayWave 2

Seems that some people just don’t understand.

Now further on after this, the other people mentioned about how it is “all over the internet” regarding people accidentally paying with PayWave / PayPass, which I guess is true if you have the card within 4cm of the terminal, and not in their handbags or wallets in their pocket. However in terms of EMV it is contact-less for the actual payment, much like PayPass/PayWave but EMV still requires a pin to process the transaction.