Using Contactless Payment Systems Following COVID-19
Written by Coral C
From handshakes to elbow bumps to late-night food deliveries, COVID-19 has changed how we view the exchange of goods and services. This, of course, includes payment processing.
As we navigate through this crisis and adapt to a temporary “new normal”, the social impact of the virus has undoubtedly had significant effects on consumer behaviour. Most notably, social distancing measures have caused a disruption to how payments are applied to business-to-customer transactions — particularly those done in-person.
As physical contact has been brought to a bare minimum, retailers have begun banning the use of cash in light of health concerns. At the same time, a heightened reliance on digital commerce is emerging.
If you are the owner of a small to medium-sized business, there are benefits to adopting contactless payment methods to keep your clients safe. Likewise, if you are a customer looking to return to your favourite local services, contactless payments can offer quicker and easier transactions, mitigated risk and peace of mind when maintaining physical distancing.
Phasing out cash
Businesses and individuals across the globe have begun evaluating the overall safety of using cash to pay for goods and services.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person when respiratory droplets are released into the air — usually when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be contracted by touching any surfaces or objects that we come into contact with.
While the risk of contracting COVID-19 from handling cash is presumed to be low, the CDC reports that “it may be possible” to do so by touching an object that has been handled by someone infected by the virus and then by touching the mouth, eyes or nose.
Experts allege that COVID-19 has the potential, albeit rare, to latch onto banknotes or change the same way it can cling to door handles, shopping carts and handrails. Though even if this risk is low, the exchange of cash payments still require individuals to come into close contact with one another — and thus increase the likelihood of potential infection.
To keep risks at a bare minimum, the World Health Organization has advised businesses to pivot towards using contactless payments going forward.
But what are contactless payments — and how can they help small businesses adapt to the growing shift towards a COVID-safe marketplace?
What is a contactless payment system?
As suggested by the name, contactless payments are transactions that don’t require any physical contact between the buyer’s device and the terminal.
In summary, contactless payment systems are a type of digital payment that uses technology to transmit payment data to a POS (point of sale). While the old-school payment method involves swiping the card through a terminal, contactless payment eliminates the need to make physical contact with, well... anything.
What are some examples of contactless payment options?
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, studies suggest that consumers are increasingly more receptive to contactless payments and digital wallets. According to the Futurist Group, about 38% of consumers contactless payment as a need, up from 30% a year prior.
Some examples of common types of contactless payment methods include:
1. Mobile Wallets
Mobile wallets store virtual information on a mobile application, allowing for users to process transactions and process transactions digitally.
If you are a customer processing an in-person transaction with your mobile wallet, this is simply done by pulling the mobile wallet up onto your smartphone and hovering the device over the payment terminal. Or if you are making an online transaction, a mobile wallet payment can be processed with any merchant that has accepted mobile wallet service providers.
Popular mobile wallets are:
If you’re unsure how to set up a mobile wallet on your smartphone, here are some tips to help you get started.
2. Online Invoicing
Online invoicing is processed when merchants have a process put in place to accept payments via credit card, debit card, PayPal, e-transfer or another online invoicing system.
Benefits of contactless payment systems
In a post-COVID climate, contactless payments are the best way for both small businesses and their customers to be risk-averse. As zero contact is required to process payments, this avoids the possibility of close contact with the merchant, other customers or surfaces that may have come in contact with an infected individual.
Given that there is zero requirement to process payments in-person, contactless payments allow for transactions to be performed in advance. In the case of digital wallet processes, they also take a fraction of the time it may take to pay with cash or with the swipe of a card.
According to a recent study conducted by the Strawhecker Group and the Electronic Transaction Association, 27% of US small businesses have seen an increase in customers using mobile wallet services.
This clearly shows that as consumers embrace new technology, it is important for small business owners to offer them a process that is most likely to make them happy and offer them peace of mind.
Quicker and more efficient payment processes are also likely to be more positively received by your customers. In all, doing so is especially important when making transactions as frictionless as possible in a post-COVID climate.
How your business can implement contactless payments
As the small business market is impacted by COVID-19, contactless payment solutions should be the default payment method to limit any physical contact with merchants, storefronts or other areas that are practicing social distancing. Alternatively, online invoicing solutions should be offered.
Your payment management system provider should be able to provide further details and options for setting this up.
We're Here To Help
At COVIDsafe, our goal is to help small businesses and their customers transition back to normal operations as safely as possible.
If you are a small business and want to learn more about how you can set up contactless payment options for your customers, please refer to our Industry Checklists to figure out which government-recommended safety guidelines are best-suited for your industry.
If you are a customer looking to contact your favourite local business once services reopen their doors, we also suggest referring to our Industry Checklists to see which protocols will be followed to ensure your safety.