Contactless payments have been getting some serious attention lately, and for good reason. The coronavirus pandemic has definitely made some consumers re-evaluate how they orchestrate payments.
Nowadays, the less interaction with equipment in public places, the better. Social distancing and other precautionary measures have accelerated contactless payments usage. I don’t mean only here in the US, but around the globe. The growth potential is huge, and companies understand the significance.
Controlled by the System
Contactless payment systems can be complex to understand. Various components make them possible. Although, the “concept” as a whole is pretty simple.
Credit cards, debit cards, smartphones and other mobile devices comprise contactless payment systems. Smart Cards are also included. They use radio frequency identification (RFID) or near-field communication (NFC) to make payments. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and others use NFC. The embedded chip and antennae enable consumers to waive a device over a reader at the POS terminal.
Ever heard of “tap & pay?” This allows consumers to tap a card or device against a payment terminal to make a payment. EMV is a common standard most often used by credit card and smartphone providers in this system.
Contactless payments are generally made within very close range of the payment terminal. Mobile payments, in contrast, use a broad band WIFI network to complete payments. Contactless payments are efficient and usually remove the need for consumer PIN verification. Also, like most mobile payments, they are secure.
Rise of the Machines
No digital or contactless payment is possible without equipment. In recent years, the contactless payment equipment market has seen continued growth. POS hardware and its technology integrations are what keep our payment systems desirable. POS providers are evolving their equipment to keep up with consumer demand.
Payments stalwarts like Clover, Square, and others offer a bevy of options.
Clover’s new handheld Flex makes contactless perfect for curbside pick up. This is a great option for takeout only restaurants, especially during this time.
Square POS offers small contactless and chip readers that enable customers to tap. They may use a smartphone or card to do so.
Shopify’s Tap & Chip Card Reader hardware allows businesses to offer “tap” payment options. Consumers may use credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. They recently launched new contactless payment hardware for Canadian retailers. This is yet another example of the growing demand for contactless payments.
Things Are Looking Up
Innovating POS and payment terminals are driving increased consumer adoption of contactless payments. Retail around the globe is benefiting from this innovation and will continue to do so.
You may wonder how these POS and payment terminals help transform payments in retail? According to Tech.co, by 2021, NFC and other contactless payments will generate $190B in sales in the US. This is up from a projected $113B this year alone. POS providers understand consumers’ need for a simple and safe checkout experience.
The coronavirus outbreak has influenced the acceptance of contactless payments. All around the world, companies are realizing this upward trend and taking action. Coresight Research highlights these notable developments already underway:
- China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payment pilot program
- Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project
- The Venmo mobile payment system, with increased limits and functionality
- The introduction of facial recognition as a payment method in Asia
- Wirecard’s team-up with Stampay to offer contactless payment options
This rise in activity around contactless payments is encouraging. As more countries and companies adapt to the pandemic, what does this mean?
What the Data Shows
All countries may not be at the same stage in contactless payments. According to Financial IT, RBR data shows that the first contactless payments in the UK date back to 2007.
The UK, as well as Japan and Indonesia, are still rather new to the concept. Canadians appear to be the most enthusiastic about contactless payments. The US has, to date, been the slowest to embrace the idea.
As demand increases, contactless acceptance is growing. EFTPOS terminals that allow contactless payments rose by 60% in 2018 to reach 66M. This, according to RBR data, is approximately two thirds of terminals worldwide.
China saw EFTPOS terminals double in accordance to a government mandate to upgrade. This alone drove a 97% increase in contactless payments.
With only 15% penetration, contactless still has a lot growth potential. The issuance of contactless-enabled cards has risen due to COVID-19. Upgrading to EFTPOS terminals will likely see this rise continue.
Sionic Mobile, What’s the CODE?
Sionic Mobile has a history in the evolution of digital payments. Contactless has always been a core philosophy. Our company has studied the payments industry for years and made note of what others are doing
The QR Code is nothing new. Several companies over the years have used them to complete a mobile or digital checkout. Once very popular, QR codes took a bit of a hiatus from the mainstream. Now, companies like PayPal are seeing new opportunities for them amid the pandemic. It’s all about timing, right? A recent article from Business Insider spills on PayPal’s new payments initiative:
The development of our ION Rewards® app allowed us to create a contactless payment type. It’s called CODE and made possible by our ION Commerce Engine® (“ICE”) Here’s how it works. At checkout for small businesses, app users present the merchant a 3-digit CODE. The merchant enters the code in the POS or a mobile device and the checkout is complete.
This checkout is completely contactless for the consumer. They touch no POS systems, dip no cards, or key any PINs. They interact only with their own smartphone device.
CODE technology is compatible with Micros 3700, Clover and other POS systems. CODE checkouts are mobile to POS, or mobile to mobile, allowing merchants to use a smartphone or tablet as a POS. They only need to download the Mobile Rewards Marketplace (MRM) merchant app. CODE is also compatible with Apple Watch.
(Disclaimer: Videos shown in this section are for demonstration and testing purposes only. Sionic Mobile has no affiliation with some brands shown and a third-party relationship with others. Contact Sionic Mobile for more information on CODE and for other demonstration videos.)
New Opportunities for Sionic Mobile and Others
With a predicted 75M contactless payments users in the US by 2022, change is inevitable. There are opportunities not only for Sionic Mobile’s CODE checkout but many others. The more interesting notion is how contactless payments may influence future commerce?
Consumers want more. They want convenience, simplicity and innovation. They also want rewards and loyalty incentives. Our CODE contactless payments can enable consumer rewards on every mobile checkout. This may help SMBs push contactless payments to the next level. It may also enable them to enrich their own loyalty programs.
Gateway and ISV (independent software vendors) may present other opportunities. Ingenico, Freedom Pay and others could fuel growth from their own merchant networks. They could encourage their merchant partners to accept contactless payments. Ingenico expands on this in a recent blog:
Retail will continue to see growth in contactless payments. Transit initiatives will likely also experience a boom in innovation for contactless. The real key to maintaining the surge will be consumer awareness. There is already much excitement around contactless payments. But, mass user adoption will push them where they need to be.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for reigniting contactless payments’ momentum. The rest is up to us.