Contactless payments provide consumers with the confidence to make essential purchases while at the same time delivering a consistent and secure experience.
Covid-19 is challenging all of us globally with an entirely new reality. Many of us are homebound and international borders and public transport systems have been heavily curtailed. People are limiting the amount of time they spend outside and are more sensitive to areas or surfaces that could be exposed to many people.
What has not changed is that people still need to spend on essentials such as groceries, medicines and the like. Merchants also need to serve their customers and communities while protecting both customers and staff. As everyone looks for ways to meet these needs without compromising on physical distancing and hygiene practices, we are seeing an even greater appetite for fast and secure payment systems that reduce the need for physical contact. While eCommerce is a boon for the burgeoning delivery economy, contactless payments offer a welcome solution in the face-to-face environment.
For consumers, contactless payments offer an easy, fast and secure experience, especially as smartphones and even smarter contactless enabled wearable devices, are now commonplace. For merchants, tap to pay technology speeds up queuing times and reduces the burden of handling cash.
There are now almost 50 countries globally where contactless payments represent at least a third of all face-to-face transactions. In the UAE, that figure is even greater, where more than 5 out of every 10 transactions are already made using contactless cards or devices.
Considering the growing popularity and need for contactless payment technology among consumers and merchants, it is important to make it even more accessible.
One of the most significant moves made in recent times is the implementation of central bank-mandated increases in the Card Verification Method limit across Mena. In circumstances where a customer would be required to insert a PIN when a transaction exceeded a certain amount, the new limits enable consumers to tap to pay using their card, mobile phone or a contactless wearable device for larger ticket purchases.
In countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, we’ve been working with our local government and industry partners to implement these new limits on contactless cards to support the growing appetite for contactless payments in those markets. Here in the UAE too, where the UAE Central Bank recently increased limits to Dh500 from Dh300, we have been working with local bank partners and merchants to enable the new limit for consumers.
By raising limits, we can help to deliver this fast, easy and secure way to pay to more customers and further support merchants and front-line staff. The priority for payment providers and the wider industry at this time is to maintain operational stability and security so that consumers and merchants can get what they need with peace of mind.
Also, when used with a mobile phone or wearable device, contactless technology has additional layers of security that use protocols such as tokenisation to ensure sensitive information cannot be compromised. Contactless cards also use the same dynamic EMV® Chip security as contact chips, and each transaction includes a unique one-time code, to ensure that stolen information cannot be used to create counterfeit cards.
Contactless payments provide consumers with the confidence to make essential purchases while at the same time delivering a consistent and secure experience. The collaboration and support across the industry for raising PIN-free limits show the importance and need for the right solutions that will help consumers, merchants and clients during these challenging times.
The author is Visa’s general manager for the UAE. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect newspaper’s policy