woolworths
The new Woolworths payment device, which has been introduced at tills across the country.
  • Woolworths staff have been prohibited from handling shoppers' bank and store cards as part of a new security process.
  • The measure is part of a roll-out of new point-of-sale devices.
  • Most of the devices don't allow for "tap" payments, which caused some controversy on social media last year.

Woolworths staff are no longer allowed to handle shoppers’ bank cards.

Staff told Business Insider South Africa that the restriction was implemented towards the end of last year to prevent card fraud, which was confirmed by a Woolworths spokesperson.

“For their own safety, the new process encourages customers to process their own payments but our till operators are there to assist them with the process if required.

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"This allows the customer to ‘own their card’ and reduce card handling.”

The new restriction is part of a rollout of new point of sale payment devices at Woolworths over the past couple of months.

The device faces the customer and is relatively far from the cashier, compared to other store devices. Shoppers have to insert or swipe their own Woolworths loyalty and bank cards, which “serves as an additional layer of card security”, the spokesperson said.

Every year, South Africans lose almost half a billion rand in card fraud, Sabric, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, reported last year.

The new Woolworths point of sales device doesn’t allow for “tap” contactless payment options, but the spokesperson confirmed that this is being introduced in selected stores.

Last year, Sabric was forced to issue a statement that the “tap” payment option is safe following social media reports claiming that it’s open to fraud.

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A YouTube video apparently showed how someone with a tap-enabled payment device could steal money from your bank card, even if it's in a wallet in your back pocket. 

Sabric said that this is ”not likely”, as getting such device involves a rigorous vetting process by the issuing bank which includes extensive documentation.

“In addition, banks also monitor merchant transaction activity and conduct merchant site visits. Should any irregularities be identified, an investigation will be launched immediately.”

“Furthermore, this payment option is only available for a predetermined number of low value transactions on any specific day, after which a PIN would be required to complete the transaction, so the financial reward associated with these transactions is low, whilst the reputational and prosecution risk to the merchant remains high."

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