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Mobile pay­ments and con­tact­less payments

Pay­ments via smart­phone or con­tact­less cards are becoming ever more pop­ular. To shop with no need for cash or codes is con­ve­nient – yet it also involves risks.

This is how you pay cash- and con­tact­less in a secure manner:

  • Use the screen lock option to pro­tect your mobile device against unau­tho­rised access, and keep it up-to-date.
  • Check which ones of your debit, credit and pre­paid cards or mobile pay­ment accounts you are actu­ally using for your con­tact­less pay­ments. In case you don’t use some of your con­tact­less fea­tures, have them deac­ti­vated if fea­sible, and cancel or close any pay­ment accounts you don’t need.
  • Specify limits for your cards or mobile pay­ment accounts, and thereby limit the max­imum risk involved, in accor­dance with your needs.
  • Only load as much money onto your pre­paid cards and pay­ment accounts as you will need in the fore­see­able future.
  • Only ever actu­ally divulge data to the mobile pay­ment app, and only grant any such apps per­mis­sions which are absolutely necessary.
  • Check your state­ments, and notify your provider imme­di­ately if you find any pay­ments not car­ried out by you or which you don’t recognise.
  • Imme­di­ately notify your provider in case of theft or loss of your card or mobile device.

From the card in your purse to an app on your mobile device

It has long been pos­sible to pay cer­tain sums of money up to a cer­tain amount by debit or credit card without having to enter a per­sonal PIN code. For a number of years, it has now also been pos­sible to use elec­tronic processes such as Apple Pay or Twint to make con­tact­less pay­ments for your pur­chases via your smart­phone or a smart­watch (“mobile payments”).

Since the emer­gence of the Corona crisis, if not even before, we no longer seem able to do without these processes in our everyday con­sumer trans­ac­tions. Mobile devices such as smart­phones and tablets offer some obvious advan­tages: They are com­pact, almost always to hand and con­nected to the Internet.

In addi­tion, mobile pay­ment processes seem to become increas­ingly unavoid­able: If you would like to install a charge­able app on your mobile app, you will have to enter your credit card details, and are then able to make “mobile” pay­ments for online pur­chases, without needing your actual card to do so. Mobile pay­ment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Sam­sung Pay work in a sim­ilar manner – with the one dif­fer­ence that these can increas­ingly also be used for offline pur­chases, for instance at the super­market or petrol sta­tion. The Swiss ver­sion Twint works in a sim­ilar manner, although you are not required to link this to a credit card, but can also do so to your bank account or a pre­paid credit balance.

The risks of mobile and con­tact­less methods

No matter how easy and con­ve­nient con­tact­less pay­ments are: Sim­ilar to your home com­puter, using your mobile devices and con­tact­less cards every day entails cer­tain risks and dan­gers. And it becomes easier to abuse these methods since there are no addi­tional secu­rity ele­ments such as a PIN code or pass­word.

The fol­lowing count amongst the most common risks:

  • Phys­ical loss or theft: In case your pay­ment card or mobile device ends up in the wrong hands, there is a risk that they are used for unau­tho­rised pur­chases. Depending on the pay­ment method and spending limits, there is a risk of losing huge sums.
  • Iden­tity theft: Fraud is also pos­sible if you still have your card or device in your pos­ses­sion. By using some per­fid­ious mea­sures, such as the dis­tri­b­u­tion of mal­ware, phishing mes­sages or social engi­neering, attackers just might suc­ceed in stealing your access and pay­ment data in a purely dig­ital manner, to then pur­chase items or order money trans­fers in your name.
  • Pri­vacy infringe­ments: The app provider should not be able to find out what a cus­tomer has bought where. And retailers should not be able to estab­lish what their cus­tomers’ bank bal­ance is. Whether this is actu­ally the case is very dif­fi­cult to check. Which of your data can be used in what way and by whom is even­tu­ally up to yourself.The good news: You can effec­tively pro­tect your­self against all these neg­a­tive sce­narios by fol­lowing our rec­om­men­da­tions above.You can find detailed infor­ma­tion on this topic in our “Mobile banking and Mobile pay­ment” info sheet and in our article on Mobile banking.

“Mobile pay­ment” means cash­less and con­tact­less pay­ments via mobile devices such as smart­phones, smart­watches and tablets. Debit and credit cards also offer a con­tact­less fea­ture and are increas­ingly linked to mobile pay­ment apps, too. To enjoy the con­ve­nience of these processes, you should take sev­eral pre­cau­tions though to ensure your data and money are safe.

What else would you like to learn about security when e-banking?

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Basic course

Find out about cur­rent Internet threats and some easy pro­tec­tive mea­sures, and how to securely use e-banking.

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Prac­tice the most impor­tant mea­sures for your com­puter and e-banking secu­rity on com­puters pro­vided by us.

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Online course for the under-30s

Learn how to use your smart­phone securely. Next to basics, we will show you what you should know about social media, clouds, mobile banking and mobile payments.

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Is your organ­i­sa­tion suf­fi­ciently secure? Learn which mea­sures you can take to sig­nif­i­cantly strengthen your organisation’s IT security.

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