In an era when physical contact can potentially lead to the spread of COVID-19, business and shopping behaviors have been radically altered. Even so, people still need essential goods and services, and merchants are highly motivated to fill their requirements in the safest ways possible. As so often happens, modern technology has come to the rescue, this time in the form of contactless payments.
How do they work?
Touchless payments check all the boxes when it comes to protecting buyers and sellers alike from the potential dangers of physical touch. They use near-field communication (NFC) radio frequency technology that allows a merchant’s contactless payment card reader to communicate wirelessly with either a chip in the customer’s smart credit card, or the digital wallet in their smartphone or wearable.
To purchase something, the buyer simply places the device or card within range of the reader. Within a matter of seconds, the relevant stored data is transferred and encrypted, the customer’s identity is verified and the payment is accepted or declined. Due to tokenization, which turns sensitive cardholder data into a string of unusable characters, the information that is transmitted cannot be replicated by hackers, drastically reducing the likelihood of fraud.
Ways to pay contactlessly.
Touchless payments offer buyers and sellers alike several options. As the pandemic spread across the globe, people began to purchase items and services in the following ways:
- Buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS). This is an enhancement of a set of behaviors that shoppers had been engaging in for years. They can simply go to a website, pick out what they want, and pay for it using the site’s shopping cart and gateway. Whereas in the past their only option may have been delivery a few days later, an increasing number of retailers began to offer same-day curbside pickup in 2020. Ultimately, buyers experience safety combined with a high level of convenience and speed.
- Digital wallets. Long before 2020, customers had the capability of setting up a digital wallet that was already built into their smartphones. However, the pandemic provided event hesitant users with a high degree of motivation to change their payment methods. Now that they have overcome their initial fear, many are leaving their cash and cards at home – choosing instead to simply use the smartphone that they always have with them anyway.
As more people are vaccinated with each passing day, it seems that there may eventually be an end to the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, it is likely that many of the changes COVID-19 wrought will remain with us long into the future. With their efficiency, ease of use, and high degree of hygiene and security, contactless payments appear likely to not only survive but thrive in the payments landscape for many years to come.