PCS launches ‘shield’ data protection technology

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Plastic card manufacturer Plastic Card Services (PCS) has unveiled its new technology designed to prevent personal and payment data from being accidentally swiped from contactless cards.

The Macclesfield-based firm has developed a patented ‘shield’ device in collaboration with technology provider VoyagerBlue that prevents radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards, more commonly known as contactless cards, from fraud and accidental payment.

Manufactured from CR80 ISO standard 570 micron PVC with shield inlay, the device creates a Faraday cage to protect any card that it is placed in front of or behind.

The device is available in two formats, the VoyagerBlue Credit Card Shield and the ePassport Shield.

PCS has already secured a distribution deal for the Credit Card Shield with UK retailer Go Travel, which has sections within supermarkets and shops including Halfords, Boots and Dixons, where the Credit Card Shield is sold in packs of two for £5.99.

The company’s main aim is to have them incorporated into commercial or loyalty cards currently existent in the marketplace.

“The development work for this device has taken place over the past 12 months and it was launched into the marketplace three or four months ago,” said PCS managing director Rob Nicholls.

“We’ve already secured a large contract for it with Danish car insurance company GF Forsikring where the technology will be incorporated into 200,000 customer membership cards.”

Both contactless payment cards and ePassports use RFID technology, where an embedded chip enables consumers to wave their card over a reader to pay for goods, and travellers can have their identification data stored and read electronically to facilitate border checks.

Contactless card payments have tripled in the past year, with a record £109m spent in March 2014, but so have instances of fraud and accidental payments of which there was a four-fold increase in reported losses between 2012 and 2013.

“In London especially there’s a big issue with Oyster card and credit card clash. When you come off the network it may swipe your Visa card by accident and therefore you’re being charged extra for the journey as you’re not seen to have swiped out,” said Nicholls.

“Our product protects the user from the issue of card clash and unauthorised payments. It has become very easy to pay for something that you weren’t intending to pay for.”

The technology is fully UK patented and the only technology of its type that can be incorporated into card designs.

“The patent holder came to us to do the development work and to commercialise it and because of that we have exclusive worldwide manufacturing rights to the device,” said Nicholls.

PCS, which has 52 staff and a turnover just short of £5m, will be exhibiting for the first time at the Cartes smart card industry event in Paris in November, which the firm said will help to move the product into the international arena.

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