Payments and withdrawals made by bank card are limited by security ceilings. - IStock / City Presse

At first glance, the rate of fraud on French bank cards seems nothing. It barely reached 0.062% in 2018, according to the latest annual report from the Observatory for the security of means of payment (OSMP). Except that in terms of amounts, it concentrates 42% of scams and represents almost all of the number of fraudulent transactions, for a total cost of 439 million euros.

Beyond the precautionary statements, the banks have decided to respond thanks to technology.

The effectiveness of dynamic cryptogram

The first option is to go through a virtual CB. You just need to credit this limited-time card with a different number than your real card for a certain amount, in order to make purchases on the Internet safely. Many banks offer this “e-credit card” service such as Crédit Mutuel, Caisse d'épargne, Banque Populaire or even Postal Bank, for an annual fee of around 12 to 13 euros depending on the establishment.

Since its launch in 2016, the dynamic cryptogram bank card has also been very successful. This improved CB replaces the three famous security numbers written on the back with a small screen powered by a long-lasting mini-battery embedded in the plastic. Thanks to this system, the code is programmed to change at regular intervals, generally every hour. Therefore, if a hacker manages to steal it, he can only use it in a very short period of time, before it is obsolete. What considerably limit the risks of fraudulent payment.

If Societe Generale was the first to market this device (600,000 customers use it today), many other banking establishments have since adopted it, such as BNP Paribas, CIC, Crédit du Nord, Crédit Mutuel, Hello Bank! or Orange Bank. The dynamic cryptogram is most often offered as a paid option billed a dozen euros per year, in addition to the annual card fee.

Fingerprint soon?

The boom in contactless payment - 2.3 billion transactions made in 2018, for a total amount of 24.4 billion euros - has also given food for thought to the financial sector. The Groupement des Cartes Bancaires has been experimenting for a few years with a biometric CB integrating a fingerprint sensor. No more PIN code which must be dialed out of sight on the payment terminal. With this device, all you have to do is authenticate by affixing your finger at the place provided on the card. Likewise, this solution allows the use of contactless payment without limit of amount. As for the secret code, it is not deleted however, since it remains necessary to make purchases on the Internet or withdraw money from the distributor.

Societe Generale had announced the marketing of this biometric version for 2019. The bank however told us that although "the technology works and is promising", this product was not yet "industrializable on a large scale". The pilot period was therefore extended and the market launch was postponed indefinitely.


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Addressing NFC flaws

Nearly three quarters of bank cards are now equipped with the contactless function using NFC technology. This system allows you to make purchases in store for a maximum amount of 30 euros, without having to type in your confidential code.

The downside: well-equipped hackers can intercept these short-range waves by standing close to you (on public transport in particular) to use your credit card without your knowledge. There are cases or cards to swipe in the wallet, like the Absolut Secure card, which block NFC technology. That said, according to the Observatory for the security of means of payment, the 5 million euros in fraudulent contactless payments that occurred in 2018 resulted "only from theft or loss of the card".

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