A Palmerston North woman has raised concerns about banks not offering customers alternatives to contactless card payment technology, such as payWave, featured credit cards.
Contactless card technology allows users to touch the card to a terminal for payments under $80, negating the need for a pin or signature.
But the technology has also been targeted by thieves, who have fraudulently used stolen or lost cards.
BNZ customer Linda Paton, who has two mortgages with her bank, said she was shocked to learn she had no choice but to accept the new technology.
"I went into the branch in The Plaza at Palmerston North to disable the payWave feature but I was pretty much told ‘no, there is nothing you can do'.
"They just didn't seem to care if I wanted to use it or not."
Contactless card payment technology is now mandatory on all new credit cards issued to New Zealand bank customers.
The payment technology, introduced in 2012, reached a milestone of one million Visa payWave transactions in October last year, according to Visa.
Mastercard's contactless card payment technology is known as Pay Pass.
Ms Paton said she became agitated after being told by bank staff that it was "just something we're having and you need to get used to it".
When she threatened to take her business elsewhere, she was told that she should expect to find the same scenario at other banks.
"It's my money, my account, and I have no control over it," said Ms Paton.
"I realise fraud can happen with any card, whether it's got payWave or not. But I'm so paranoid that I've gone out and bought a metal credit card holder to put my credit cards in.
"I'm not going to take any chances; this is my money."
BNZ external relations manager Emily Davies would not discuss specifically why BNZ did not offer Visa cards without payWave, but did imply that those decisions were being made at higher levels than the banks themselves and that "Mastercard has made it mandatory for banks" to use the contactless card technology.
There have been cases in Manawatu of contactless cards used in fraud. Allan Reginald Koia and Aswad Mcleod pleaded guilty last year in the Palmerston North District Court to a range of charges, after they used the new contactless technology to buy goods.
Philip van Dyk of the New Zealand Banking Association did not know why bank customers had not been given a choice about payWave.
"I guess there's always a balancing act between user convenience and credit card fraud when banks are considering a new technology," he said.
He said he would find it interesting to compare statistics on the level of credit card fraud in New Zealand since payWave had been introduced. "Although payWave isn't perfect, I think you'd find that credit card fraud levels would be minimal, and the convenience . . . would outweigh those concerns."
The Banking Ombudsmen Scheme of New Zealand also has no issue with payWave technology becoming mandatory.
Media relations officer Emily Reilly said banks had "the right" to decide what products they provided for customers. But she was aware of contactless card security concerns. Users could refer to Banking Ombudsmen Scheme's website for guides on how they could protect themselves from credit card fraud.
Consumer New Zealand finance writer Kate Sluka previously told the Manawatu Standard that people could ask their bank to put a pin or signing block on the card for sums under $80, but it would not stop people forging signatures.
- Manawatu Standard
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