As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, I believe our relationship with germs is forever changed. And it’s changing the way we, as a society, do life, including how we pay for goods and services.
Experts are saying COVID-19 can latch onto currency the same way it can survive on other surfaces. Considering credit cards already carry many types of bacteria, and the devices we use to swipe and pin are touched continuously throughout the course of the day, contactless and digital payment methods are an important option to consider.
Contactless payments let customers tap a card or cell phone to a device, and within five-tenths of a second, the payment is processed. It’s safe, helping remove the threat of cross-contamination, while maintaining the same level of financial security and protection as the chip and pin option.
What are contactless payments?
Contactless payments are a digital payment that uses the technology and security of a mobile device to securely communicate the customer’s payment information to a merchant without making physical contact. The transaction is easy, secure and nearly instantaneous.
Smartphones, smartwatches, other wearable technology and contactless-enabled credit or debit cards can all be used for contactless payments. By device or by card, the customer simply taps to pay by holding their contactless-enabled devices over the payment terminal.
The transaction is securely processed in an instant and finished without the device making contact with a surface, changing hands or touching another person.
How do they work?
Contactless payment devices use NFC (near-field communication) antennas to send payment data directly to the terminal when the device is placed near one with an NFC receiver.
Are they secure?
The EMV technology used in “chip” cards is the same technology that powers contactless payments, which are not only nearly impossible to copy but also utilize high-level technology called tokenization to guard transactions. Tokenization defends consumer data from breach and exploitation by substituting sensitive payment data, like the 16-digit card number, with a unique digital identifier called a token.
Smartphones add additional levels of security as most use multi-layered and biometric authentication. This means they require an identifier—a fingerprint, face scan or pin—to be approved. No one but the smartphone’s owner can make a contactless payment with their phone, making them extremely secure.
How can customers use them?
Nearly all modern smartphones, including iPhones and Android devices, can make contactless payments. You may have seen the mobile wallet on your phone—this app stores and securely transmits the payment information. The most popular mobile wallets include Apple Pay and Google Pay and come preinstalled on new devices from those manufacturers.
When a device is set up, the payment process is quick and easy. Customers will hold their devices above the payment terminal for 2–3 seconds. You will hear a beep and a confirmation that the payment has been processed.
One of the biggest complaints about EMV chip technology is the additional time transactions take. Contactless payments remove friction and, in my opinion, offer customers a better buying experience. Contactless payments are faster than both cash and card transactions. You don’t have to watch customers dig through their wallets trying to find their debit card or wait for them to enter a pin. And you don’t have to count back change for customers, which also speeds up the process. Retailers can take this one step further by emailing customer receipts.
Like handshakes and hugs, chip and pin could very well not move forward into post-COVID-19 society. Several devices allow for contactless payments, and they may already be at your counter. The wireless terminals, 3G, 4G, and 5G, which are used for both curbside and face-to-face transactions, have contactless payment functionality, as does the Dejavoo Z9.
Clover has some exceptional devices, both counter, and mobile, that allow for contactless payments. Also, the following mobile apps provide contactless payments: Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Visa, payWave, MasterCard, PayPass, various bank apps and some credit card apps. All that's required is an NFC terminal with contactless payment functionality.
Sarah McKee is the brand manager of Chosen Payments.
Note: This article is not intended as professional health or safety advice.