On-line credit card payments just got more complicated

Credit cards - ©iStockphoto.com/zentiliaPaying with a credit card when buying things on-line has become a part of life on the internet.

A few years ago credit cards were not particularly popular in Germany, and many shops still do not take them.  Many people only have them for ordering goods on-line, so they do not get that much use.

One of the main reason for their popularity is probably the fact that it is considered safe, because if something goes wrong you can call the credit card company and get their help to sort it out.  This makes it better than a bank transfer, cheaper than ordering something to be delivered as “Nachnahme”, and avoids giving out bank account details for a direct debit payment.

Of course, the credit card companies have an interest in making their system safe, and so they introduced a new set of digits on the card.  For most cards, this is on the reverse side, so it is not visible if the card is simply photographed or photocopied.  It is also not raised, so it would not show up on a simple old-fashioned card swipe. But otherwise, what use are a few more numbers?  Anyone who is going to steal and misuse credit card information, is going to try and get those as well, aren’t they?

So now there is something new, and it is basically a password that you use when you pay for something on-line.  Depending on your credit card, the name varies.  MasterCard call it the SecureCode(TM), for example.

You set the password once, and then when you use the card again the website forwards you to a secure site belonging to the credit card company in order to enter the password.

Personally, I find the system a nuisance.  At first I could simply say that I didn’t want to set a password, and the payment would still go through.  Then one day, I had to set it in order to complete the payment.  So all of a sudden I had to come up with a secure password, when I was not prepared to do so.

But worse still, it is yet another password that I have to remember.  It’s important, because some website will not accept my credit card without it, but it’s not exactly something that I need every day.

Having a password that is not printed on the card may make it more secure, but passwords that are complicated and not used very often tend to get written down.

So aside from any technical criticism of the system, the fact that card users now have to remember a new password does not make it that much of an improvement.

Just more complicated.

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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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