All but one of South Africa’s major banks let customers disable tap-to-pay

FNB is the only major bank in South Africa that doesn’t let customers disable tap-to-pay on their payment cards.

Although “Tap and Go” payment technology for bank cards was beneficial during the Covid-19 pandemic, many people still have security concerns.

FNB’s credit card and card platform CEO, Chris Labuschagne, told Cape Talk’s Wendy Knowler that the technology is a core feature of their bank cards and can’t be disabled.

“All FNB cards are contactless-enabled, and the function can’t be disabled as it is a core feature of the product,” he said.

FNB’s frequently asked questions (FAQs) document recommends that customers ask the merchant to swipe or insert their card if they wish to use it the traditional way.

MyBroadband reached out to prominent banks in South Africa for comment. Nedbank and Capitec did not answer our questions by the time of publication.

FNB’s head of digital payments, Jason Viljoen, told MyBroadband that contactless payment technology is built into all of the bank’s cards.

He echoed Labuschagne’s advice that customers concerned about security should look into creating a virtual card and linking it to a contactless payment app.

“We encourage our customers to activate a virtual card on the FNB App and to link their virtual card to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay as the next security and convenience evolution in card payments,” he said.

Other major South African banks, such as Standard Bank, Absa, Capitec, and Nedbank, all offer the option to disable contactless payments on their card.

Some let clients disable the features themselves.

A Standard Bank spokesperson told MyBroadband that its customers could disable or enable the “Tap and Go” at a branch or through their banking app.

“A customer can use the app and the branch to manage Tap and Go settings,” the spokesperson said, adding that the current industry limit for contactless transactions is R500.

Tapping to pay for more than R500 will require the account holder’s pin to verify the transaction.

According to the spokesperson, Standard Bank’s customers have embraced the technology, with contactless payments making up over 70% of all physical transactions.

Absa told MyBroadband that its customers can’t disable the feature themselves but can deactivate it in a branch or through the card call centre.

Nedbank customers are in a similar situation, with the bank requiring them to deactivate the feature at a branch or through its contact centre.

However, contactless payments cannot be disabled on American Express cards provided by Nedbank.

Capitec customers can choose whether they want the feature activated when they pick up a new card and then toggle it on or off through the banking app.

However, Capitec’s FAQ document specifies that once the feature has been activated or deactivated through the app, the customer must use the card at a point of sale or ATM and enter the pin to complete the process.

Tap-to-pay will not activate or deactivate by simply using the setting toggle on Capitec’s app.

Looking at digital banks, all three major players in South Africa provide contactless-enabled cards.

Discovery did not specify how to activate or deactivate the feature, just that their cards come with the function enabled by default.

Bank Zero also doesn’t specify how to disable the feature entirely but does offer the option to require a pin for all contactless payments, regardless of the amount.

Tyme Bank told MyBroadband it doesn’t allow customers to disable tap-to-pay — like FNB.

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