Just tap and pay. A few seconds is all it takes to use a contactless card and make your in-store purchase. Whether you use a prepaid, credit, debit card or mobile device to tap, contactless payments save you from handling cash, swiping and typing a PIN.
How Do Contactless Payments Work?
Contactlesss payment options have a chip that interacts with card readers using radio-frequency identification technology (aka RFID). When you tap the card at a payment processor, the terminal communicates with the card’s issuing bank and transfers the funds instantly.
Mobile wallets—which are apps that store your card details—operate similarly but also use near field communication technology (NFC). NFC allows your phone and POS terminals to communicate in close proximity and encrypts transactions for added security. Across the board, the most popular mobile wallet apps include Apply Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay because of their wide availability.
Benefits of Contactless Payments
The convenience of tap and pay functionality far surpasses paying with cash or magstripe cards that require a PIN. Faster checkout lines benefit both customers and retailers, and you don’t need to bring a physical wallet if relying on mobile apps to make purchases.
Contactless boasts unmatched security due to instant transactions and encrypted transfers. The process of tokenization essentially replaces your bank details on the app with random numbers to prevent anyone from accessing your private information and committing fraud.
Why touch cash or a PIN pad if you don’t have to? Even as the pandemic subsides in the coming years, the habits of staying germ-free likely won’t disappear. This past year, 44% of Canadians say the pandemic changed their payments preferences to digital and contactless for the long-term, and almost 60% of people use cash less often to avoid germ transmission.
The Biggest Trends in Contactless Payments
It’s no surprise that the pandemic encouraged fearful shoppers to spend more online, but the mass shift to contactless payments was unprecedented. A global study conducted by Mastercard last year found that 79% of consumers worldwide frequently use contactless cards, and 74% of people claim they will continue using them in the future. Digital payments are here to stay, including the following trends seen in Canada right now.
1. Use of Mobile Wallets
Although mobile wallet usage hasn’t surpassed contactless cards yet, mobile payments are gaining popularity. Over this past year, 40% of Canadians used mobile wallets more often than before the pandemic because of added convenience and safety. Apple Pay and Google Pay increased their market penetration, too, showing the continued growth of device payments.
As the demand for mobile wallets grows, brands will need to upgrade their loyalty and engagement strategy, offering more features that integrate into the digital-first lifestyle of most consumers. Flexible features include rewards and bill pay capabilities that consumers can access from the palm of their hand.
Businesses have also adapted to the shift towards device payments. Almost 10% of retailers bought new payment terminals to accept tap and mobile transactions, appealing to a broader range of consumers. Offering tap POS terminals also speeds up the checkout process, making lines shorter and customers happier.
2. Adoption by Younger Generations
The millennial and Gen Z cohorts are the first to use mobile payments and digital wallets regularly. This trend is likely due to a greater awareness of contactless options and a quicker adoption of technology.
According to Payments Canada, people with higher incomes also commonly use tap and pay to make purchases, and 32% of Canadians used their mobile debit card often in 2021, with most of those consumers falling into a younger age group. As millennials and Gen Z consumers grow older, contactless usage is predicted to grow with them.
3. New Payment Methods
Supported by the contactless trend, alternative payment methods like QR codes were also introduced. Although the technology wasn’t widely used, PayPal introduced touch-free QR code payments for small businesses during the pandemic. This adoption showed new alternatives emerging in the contactless payment space alongside e-commerce innovations, like buy-now-pay-later.
Despite recent events that accelerated the use of contactless cards, they’ve been a viable payment option for many years. From EMV to NFC technology, touch-free payments are a top choice for Canadians that won’t be disappearing any time soon.