Contactless payments allow consumers to pay for goods or services without needing to physically swipe a card in a machine or pass the card to another person. By tapping a phone or card on or near a terminal, near-field communication (NFC) enables the consumer to transmit payment information without physically touching anything. For a variety of reasons, U.S. consumers were slower than their global counterparts in adopting the technology, but due to the fear of COVID-19 infection, they are quickly catching up.
A new study from Visa shows that more than two thirds of customers say they would switch to businesses now offering contactless payment solutions. And more than three quarters of consumers say they have changed how they pay due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study involved a survey asking 250 business owners around the world their view of business operations in a post-COVID world, as well as a survey of 1,000 adult consumers asking about their payment and shopping habits.
And in a MasterCard survey of 1,000 Americans, 51 percent used contactless payments at the point of sale in March or April 2020, and half of those people said the COVID-19 pandemic prompted them to try the technology for the first time. Roughly half of U.S. consumers told MasterCard they’re using cash less, or not at all, due to the pandemic.
The pandemic rushed U.S. consumers to a place where the rest of the world already lived. In 2018, only 3 percent of cards in use in the U.S. were contactless as opposed to 64 percent in the U.K. and 96 percent in South Korea, according to a study by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.
The Federal Reserve’s annual “Diary of Consumer Payment Choice” showed cash, which was the #1 payment method last year, came in second to debit cards this year. Credit cards were a close third place.
Here are just a few points regarding contactless payments:
- Contactless Payment Most Important Safety Measure
The Visa survey reports 46 percent of consumers believe contactless payments are the most important safety measure for retailers to provide.
- Signature Required
One thing contactless payments cannot help are required signatures. Some retailers are still requiring signatures even in the middle of a pandemic.
- Public Transit
Contactless payments allow commuters to speed through a subway turnstile versus waiting in line to load money onto a transit swipe card.
- Digital Coupons & Loyalty Points
Some grocery stores still require customers type in their phone number to redeem digital coupons and receive loyalty points despite simultaneously offering contactless payments. One workaround is asking the cashier to type in the number.
Consumers are rewarding businesses that put COVID-19 safety measures at the top of their priorities. With more and more consumers adopting contactless payments in response to COVID-19, businesses who offer the technology are finding an increase in demand.