Contactless payment used to mean volatile Bitcoin holdings sitting on your laptop or Western Union money wires from the back of a grocery store. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, contactless payment isn’t a niche sector of the economy. It’s become a vital component to getting the economy and the world back on its feet.
Without the option of contactless payment, more businesses will go under and more individuals will have to give up their dreams.
The definition of contactless payment is paying without you or your card having to touch the point of sale terminal–essentially, any method that does not involve physical contact with another person or card reader. While this technology emerged back in the 90’s, contactless payment never gained much ground until recently. The pandemic forced companies to find innovative ways to stay open, involving extensive cleaning routines, minimal customer contact, and social distancing requirements. Eliminating the contact required to sign your name or put your pin in a credit card reader is just one of the ways that businesses are reducing the risk of spreading the disease within their doors.
Contactless payment takes many forms. Tap and Go credit cards, where you tap or hover your card on or just above the reader instead of inserting or swiping it, are gradually becoming more common today as a variety of banks begin issuing them. Tap and Go credit cards are faster and easier than chip and swipe cards because they don’t even need to touch the card reader–the data can transmit from centimeters away. These cards of the future are used extensively in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Even the MTA, which runs the New York City subway service, is starting to encourage use of contactless cards to enter turnstiles.
Contactless payment usage in the U.S. has spiked by 150% since March 2019, according to Forbes. Using the Tap and Go cards is easy, fast, and considered to be just as safe as chip-reader cards.
So why don’t we stop there?
There are many reasons that credit and debit cards that hover just above or click onto a card reader are only part of the solution to move toward an entirely contactless system. Keeping payments safe in an increasingly globalized world, in which viruses can spread faster than ever, takes more technology.
Here are some issues with relying solely on Tap and Go cards.
First, they require every business-owner and entrepreneur to buy the hardware necessary for Tap and Go cards. For example, Square offers a Tap and Go reader for purchase. For multi-location businesses or franchises, equipping all stores with new hardware can add up quickly, especially when not all consumers even have Tap and Go cards.
Also, because these cards do not require a pin or signature, your bank will likely limit the amount you can purchase at once.
But there’s an even greater issue here–Tap and Go card usage requires you to be in the same physical location as the person you are paying. That means venturing out into stores and businesses that may not be safe.
And now, with credit card information pre-saved on Amazon and a greater number of people using Venmo as a cash transferring service instead of cash itself, it has become an expectation rather than a luxury to pay without even taking your credit card out of your wallet. People want hands-free payments and single-click purchases, and the traditional “cash or card” method does not fall into those categories.
Cash usage has been on the way out for a long time now, which was accelerated by the pandemic. Cash can carry bacteria and viruses on its surface and requires more hand-to-hand contact than card-payment does. Many businesses don’t even accept cash anymore because of the potential health risks involved.
All of this results in a more digitized economy. Some banks are entirely digital and many people rarely have cash in their wallet anymore.
Mobile payment providers have multiplied in the past few years. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal Mobile, Visa Checkout, Square Order, and Venmo are just a few examples of the plethora of new or already-established companies that are getting in on the game. These systems are safe because they store your information in the cloud, rather than in the device itself. So losing your phone does not mean losing your savings.
These platforms are also advantageous to the sellers because they don’t have to pay credit card fees or buy the hardware required for the transactions. They can also more easily get payments for delivered and mobile-order goods. No more credit card numbers over the phone.
There is some evidence that shows that digital payments could encourage people to tip more. When Square first started rolling out many of their card readers and accompanying ipads, they created an option where customers can click on the amount they would like to tip without having to remember to tip or do the math. One simple finger click and your tip is done. Square found that, between 2012 and 2014, the average number of people leaving tips increased from 38% to 50%. With the technology that makes tipping easier spreading to more and more businesses, It is possible that number has increased since then.
Companies are quickly making changes to keep up with what consumers want and to get the benefits that come with contactless paying. A wide range of sellers from Burger King to Walmart to local coffee shops are instituting contactless systems, whether that involves ordering ahead or using their payment system, like Walmart Pay.
The 5G network is another factor independent from Covid-19 that is increasing the likelihood of adoption of contactless payments. Set to debut later this year, 5G will bring unprecedented connectivity to our world. 3G introduced apps that use wifi (social media), and 4G introduced many facets of the gig economy (airbnb and Uber), so 5G is the next major step to a more connected world. 5G will mean that nearly every piece of technology can be connected to others.
There are so many ways that 5G could be implemented–you could try on clothes virtually instead of going to a store, you may be able to avoid car crashes while biking through a city because your bike will inform you of what’s ahead, and your car could turn into a traveling living room.
This connectivity will hit the world of payments, too. It will speed up the process of moving money between accounts, making it easier to conduct more digital payments than ever before. Because almost everything will be connected, there will be no reason to use external pieces of hardware to transfer money.
Universal contactless payments are coming–the only question left is how soon they will land.
KLYP is joining the trend of contactless paying by partnering with Stripe. Pay and tip entirely through the KLYP app and know your money is safe in Stripe’s state-of-the-art encrypted security system. Never fumble for cash or card again. KLYP provides seamless payments and peace of mind, giving you more time to do what you love.