Interac, or Debit as most of us refer to it, isn’t new technology. I’ve used it many times when out picking up a few last minute items at the grocery store or grabbing a gift for the kids. It’s like paying with cash without having to carry cash. Now there’s a new service being offered to Canadians, Interac Flash, and at a recent dinner I discovered 7 things you may want to know about the technology.
1. Canada’s first and only contactless debit service. This means you can enjoy the convenience of the “tap-n-go” service you may already be enjoying on your credit cards but in the form of debit. You’re not borrowing money to pay back but making payments right from your bank account. No need to swipe and enter PIN numbers so you can get out of the store quicker.
Unlike the credit card number, which is your account number and appears printed on your card, your Interac Flash number is purely a reference to who you are. Someone else trying to access your banking information cannot use this number.
3. Transactions are real time. When you use your Interac Flash card your bank sees each and every transaction as it occurs. If the bank feels a transaction is out of the ordinary or suspicious the card can be blocked. This is different from other cards that approve a transaction offline at the terminal and only sends a note after the fact to your bank to post.
4. Interac Flash RF Technology. Your Flash card leverages RF enabled smartcard technology versus less secure RFID technology typically used in inventory management, thereby keeping your data safe. The contactless RF technology in the Interac Flash cards requires communication to take place in very close proximity (less than 4 cm). This technology combined with layered cryptographic techniques protects you against skimming, counterfeiting and transaction replay types of fraud.
5. Limited value to a single transaction. The Interac Flash is designed for those small purchases, such as your morning coffee and danish or milk and bread at the grocery store. The maximum value for each single transaction can’t exceed $100 and the cumulative (sum of subsequent contactless transactions) limit is usually around $200 though your financial institution sets the actual numbers. On the off chance that someone gains access to your card, they don’t have access to a whole heck of a lot of funds.
6. Chip embedded card is more secure than your magnetic stripe. Interac Flash chip technology enables you to process and store data securely. Coupled with the chip’s cryptography technology, it is extremely difficult to copy and reproduce the data on your Interac Flash card. In 2013 bank machines and debit cards were made chip enabled and as of 2015 all point-of-sale machines (the payment devices located at the checkout) will only accept chip technology versus magnetic stripes.
7. Choice between traditional Interac Debit or Interac Flash. Should a retailer not have a Flash-enabled terminal or you would prefer to pay by Interact Debit, you have the choice. Your card offers you access to both, just tap for Flash or insert for Debit.
Interac Flash offers the same debit service I’ve grown accustomed to using but with the added contactless feature I love about my credit card. Being able to make small purchases without carrying cash is a nice benefit and it costs stores pennies to accept it (a bonus for supporting your small businesses). I’m especially excited about future possibilities, such as paying for parking or even transit.
Thanks to the folks at Interac for shedding some light on this new payment feature and the added security that comes with it when I don’t have cash in my pocket. Visit Interac’s site for more information on Interact Flash as a consumer.
This post is sponsored by Interac but all opinions and experiences are my own.