The advent of contactless credit cards has been a triumph for shopping convenience, but a blow to financial security.
These cards use radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to trigger transactions wirelessly, without the need to swipe your card or enter a security code. The problem is, the same technology allows anyone with bad intentions to trigger your card while it is tucked away in your bag. As RFID scanners become increasingly powerful, this form of fraud is now easier to commit than any petty thieving.
Although RFID-blocking wallets and bags can provide some protection, they cannot block the latest generation of scanners. The solution comes in the shape of Vaultcard, a new accessory that jams unwanted RFID leakage.
Vaultcard does a fine superficial impression of the cards it shields, but the technology inside is somewhat different. Contactless cards have an antenna and a chip to “talk” with scanners (i.e. credit card terminals). Vaultcard also has an antenna, but it replies with nonsensical electromagnetic noise. This makes it impossible for a deceitful scanner to trigger the other cards in your wallet.
The protection is triggered by the faintest scanner signal. These scanner radio waves also power Vaultcard — it has no battery — meaning the jamming effect gets stronger when powerful scanners are within range. In other words, this card will protect your finances indefinitely. Legitimate transactions are unaffected, as long as Vaultcard is eight inches away from the terminal.
As a crowdfunded product, with no retail units available for review, there is no way of verifying the effectiveness of the technology. That said, Vaultskin, the London-based startup behind Vaultcard, has invested significant energy and expertise in the project, and IndieGoGo users have collectively pledged more than eight times the original fundraising goal.
At an eventual retail price of $35, Vaultcard looks to be an affordable way to secure your money. At the time of writing, backers can pledge $23 to receive one of the first batch of cards, scheduled for delivery in September.
Would you choose the fraud protection of Vaultcard over an RFID-blocking wallet?