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RFID blocking wallets work — but you don’t need one

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MyBroadband has tested a radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking wallet and found that it successfully prevented our bank cards from being read.

However, products like these solve a non-existent problem.

The wallet in question is the Minimalist Wallet by Skone, which we bought for R269 on Takealot.

The wallet features thick aluminium and carbon fibre plates on both sides of your cards, which claim to block RFID scanning.

If the shielding works as advertised, no one can scan your contactless payment cards in your wallet to try and process an unauthorised transaction.

The wallet has a main slot where cards fit perfectly and promises to hold up to 12 cards with the help of its stretch bands on three sides.

We tested this, and it could easily fit more cards than the advertised 12, but this may stretch it out and cause it to lose its grip.

The wallet also has an external money clip, which works well and holds notes tight, but due to the size of the wallet, folded notes still extend past the side.

You can solve this by folding notes multiple times, but this makes them difficult to remove.

Taking out a card from the wallet is easy if it is at the front or back of the stack, but the middle ones are difficult to get to unless you remove them all at the same time.

MyBroadband did various tests on two tap-enabled bank cards from different banks and found that the wallet does work as advertised.

We used a Yoco Go card machine that supports tap payments.

Both cards worked instantly when held close to the card machine outside the wallet.

When we tried to make a payment with a card inside the RFID blocking wallet, the machine did not see the card at all, proving the blocking worked.

We also decided to test with the card in a regular leather wallet, with and without other cards inside.

When only the payment card is in the leather wallet, the card machine reads the card and then asks for the same card to be swiped or inserted.

We have seen this behaviour before when a card machine gets a weak signal from a card.

When we had other RFID cards in the same wallet, the card machine gave an error, stating it detected multiple cards.

Although the Skone Minimalist Wallet worked exactly as advertised, fears over drive-by fraudulent tap-and-go payments are misplaced.

Tracing a transaction like this is extremely easy, as all point-of-sale machines must be registered.

There are also several safeguards to prevent fraud with contactless cards.

While RFID blocking holders would prevent attackers from reading the minimal amount of data available on these cards — if you only have one in your pocket — these seem to be a solution looking for a problem.


Now read: South Africa’s R0 monthly fee bank accounts compared

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