August 21, 2020

Feature Article

TOUCHLESS PAYMENTS: THE NEW NORM

Overview

Consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging and for some, quite consequential. As the global outbreak continues to evolve, merchants are facing challenges responding to the changing needs and concerns of customers, workers, and communities alike. One of the critical points of focus is reducing the need for customers to interact physically with point-of-purchase terminals. Reducing unnecessary interaction and moving towards touch-free payments is becoming a crucial societal benefit. Enter tap to pay. Merchants leveraging tap to pay, or contactless technology, offers customers a fast, easy, safe, and secure payment experience at checkout. In Canada, contactless payment methods (mobile payments, tap credit, and debit) have been popular for quite some time. Fast-forward to today, and that number has grown exponentially. It’s been reported that eighty percent of Canadians will continue to use tap as a primary payment method for all future, in-person purchases. In the US, the adoption of contactless chip payments has been much slower but has experienced quite an increase in recent times and will continue to climb, according to all expectations in this still-socially-distanced world.

At this point, as consumers, we have all come to realize that touchless payments are essential to continue to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus. As retailers, thoughts are around what can be done to generate more traffic and business, all the while keeping customers and staff as safe as can be.

A Look At Options

Mobile Payment Apps

Mobile payment apps have seen significant growth. While it would make sense that turning a smartphone into a wallet is second nature to Gen Z and millennial consumers, there has been a very real uptick in the adoption of these payment types with all other (and yes, older) generations, across the Americas.

If you currently have contactless enabled in your locations, there are no further enablements needed. ApplePay, GooglePay, and SamsungPay will automatically be accepted. And due to Canada’s mature contactless ecosystem, mobile bank wallets are also included.

Contactless Limits

To reduce interaction at the point of purchase, both Visa and Mastercard have announced an increase in contactless limits to $250 in Canada.

Once implemented by partners, this inspires cardholders to buy “more of what they need with the security, speed, and touch-free experience of contactless payments*” at more merchants across the US and Canada.

These card brands are “also reminding merchants that signatures are not required on a receipt or electronic point of sale device for contactless payments, giving consumers comfort, safety, and speed at checkout.*”

Limits can be updated in the MCM configuration. We recommend contact with your acquirer to determine and confirm liability limits applicable to your business and region and by specific card brand.

“As people look for safer ways to pay in the wake of the pandemic, The announcements made recently to champion contactless limit raises around the world encourage consumers to pay with contactless to minimize interaction.”

E-Gift Cards

Traditional (physical) gift cards do not have contactless capabilities, but they can be scanned, thereby qualifying as a touchless payment. Some merchants have moved to complement their selection by offering electronic versions of their gift cards that are immediately available on a mobile phone or available for retrieval online. These cards or certificates will be bar- or QR-coded, so that may be scanned at the register. Contact your gift card provider to institute an electronic gift program.

If you do not currently process gift cards but are interested in establishing such a program, contact us for more information. Our middleware handles direct-to-host processing, independent of your financial transactions, and there many gift card providers that we support through our product.

Prepaid Cards

With the world being what it is, there’s been a growth in prepaid credit cards, too. Whether it’s attributed to issues with one’s credit or security concerns when shopping online, prepaid credit cards are being widely purchased and used in person, as well as for e-commerce. There are no specific MCM configuration requirements for acceptance of these cards as the BIN ranges are recognized within their card brand ranges.

Weighing your options?

Before considering your readiness to shift—or to take full advantage—of all tap capabilities and offerings, there are a few questions that you may want answered:

  • Does my current MCM build fully support contactless chip transactions? The MCM build in use in your current environment may not be up-to-date or may require additional configuration updates. To learn more, we would recommend you contact us to discuss capabilities and options.

  • Does my device firmware support contactless chip transactions for all card brands that are accepted and does my PED support updates, if needed?
    Some device and firmware combinations do have their limitations. To verify, you can perform some tests in a lab, but as an initial measure, you’ll need to ensure
    • that your test merchant profile with your acquirer is updated to reflect your requirements,
    • that your MCM configuration is modified to match that profile, and
    • that a few transactions are subsequently performed in your test environment.

    Alternatively, you can contact us prior to any additional enablement, and we’ll be able to provide direction to you, based on your specific device model and firmware version.

  • Can I expand my card acceptance for contactless transactions? Yes. Provided that you’ve verified and confirmed the expansion with your acquirer, you’ll need to review your MCM configuration. If any cards are not enabled for contactless entry, you may enable them, save the changes and initialize the PED to finalize the update.

  • Can I increase my limits on contactless transactions? Yes. Limits can be changed in the MCM configuration (using MODCC or through the GUI). Once changes have been entered and saved, you’ll need to ensure the PED is initialized for the changes to take effect. Be sure to contact your acquirer for guidance on acceptable ceilings and overall liability coverage.

Any retailer who has not yet adopted EMV contactless capabilities would do well to take necessary measures to implement this for their business. The benefits are many, and adoption will only increase, as hundreds of millions of tap-enabled cards continue to be issued. Any direction on this can be provided by our seasoned professionals, who can walk you through options and any comprehensive plan needed for this transition.

The Power of Signage

Don’t underestimate the power of visible signage. Whether that extends to the cards accepted within your locations or to indicate that tap-to-pay is accepted on your terminals, it’s been proven that prominent signage can influence consumers and may spur more of them to action. Talk to your device provider or card brand company or consult their websites. Often, these marketing materials can be made available at no cost.

Resources

While you have all likely sought out instruction on the care of your PEDs, we’ve consolidated the sanitation recommendations—from four major device manufacturers—in one place for comparison:

Manufacturers (Linked)

Equinox
Ingenico
PAX
Verifone

In need of signage or just want to see what’s being offered?  Check out these links for access to some free materials for merchants:

Card Brands (Linked)

Visa
Mastercard
American Express
Discover
JCB

Acknowledgements

Quoted material sourced from the Mastercard Newsroom.

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