I thought I was a germaphobe before this pandemic, but now it’s worse as I view everything outside of my home like Scott Lang in Ant-Man. Shrunk to the size of an ant, I look around me in horror as I see up close the oils, dirt, and grime left on PIN pads and door handles at the grocery stores and gas stations I frequent.
So maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but it’s not far from what many people think as they make their way into public places. Businesses are already implementing social distancing guidelines and traffic flow changes to minimize the spread of COVID-19. At the checkout counters, guards have been installed for the protection of everyone. But that last step, the money exchange is where change needs to happen (pun intended!) What if there was a way that we could elect not to handle dirty cash or interact with that PIN pad or stylus? That would be a game-changer. Oh, wait! It’s called a contactless payment system, and people worldwide are using it every day!
So what is it?
Contactless payment systems most commonly refer to credit and debit cards, smartwatches, and smartphones that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) or near field communications (NFC) for making secure payments. In practical terms, a consumer can “wave” their card or smart device over a reader at a point of sale (POS) terminal to make a purchase with little to no physical interaction.
How do I get started?
Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay are just some of the ways to make contactless payments using near-field communication (NFC) technology. The links below detail how to setup your respective smartphone to get started.
Apple Pay: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204506
Samsung Pay: https://www.samsung.com/us/samsung-pay/
Google Pay: https://pay.google.com/about/
If you’re more interested in using a physical contactless-enabled card, you might want to consider Visa or MasterCard.
Who accepts contactless payments?
Burger King, Taco Bell, Sheetz, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Subway, and KFC are just a few national chains who embraced contactless placements in the last five years. Unfortunately, some of these chains have not trained their employees to help customers who inquire about the Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay logos at the register. Other large chains are missing out on an opportunity to make drive-thru transactions safer. For example, at my local McDonald’s drive-through, they don’t have the reader close enough to the window for patrons to use their smartphone. Instead, the phone is passed to the worker, who then holds it up to the reader, before it’s handed back to the customer. Not so contactless, is it?
More and more local establishments are accepting contactless payments as well. The Main Street Cakery Cafe (locations in Fairview and Copperleaf) have implemented a POS solution from Toast. In addition to accepting contactless payments at the register, guests can scan a QR code on their receipt and pay for the meal with no credit-card handling. When restrictions are eventually lifted for the dining-in experience, the adoption of these technologies is going to help not only stop the spread of disease but will relieve customer anxiety.
Prior to this global pandemic, many US consumers viewed the contactless payment systems as a gimmick or intended only for the tech-savvy, but it’s becoming clear that touchless payment systems are going to help us to establish the “new normal” and unlike a lot of changes, this one is actually convenient!