Payments without PIN – ‘A Green Light for Fraud’

MPs and fraud prevention groups have recently raised concerns over the policies of some banks after an investigation found that in-store card payments were being accepted without a PIN. During the investigation by The Daily Telegraph, it was found that cardholders were able to make payments with just a signature, if they did not know their PIN.

This means that a stolen debit card could conceivably be used to make purchases over the £30 contactless threshold without needing to know the card PIN.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP and Treasury committee member, said: “We are in a contactless era where staff in shops don’t look at signatures on the back of cards anymore. These banks… are in danger of giving a green light to fraudsters.”

Signature based authentication is not robust enough in terms of security nor ideal in terms of user experience. Ever since the introduction of the PIN over 50 years ago, improved security has been at the heart of every change in the payments landscape. PIN is a universally trusted and accepted form of authentication that offers a level of security consumers feel conformable with. It has years of education behind it, driven by banks and schemes who still prefer this method of payment authentication. To revert back to in-store payment methods without a PIN, when paying for something over the contactless limit, is a move that could put consumers at risk.