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Studies published as recently as January predicted contactless cards would reach more than 40% of cardholders by year-end.1 Then, business as we know it changed. While no one could have predicted evolving cardholder demands and expectations due to the pandemic, the focus on safety for both customers and employees has driven an increase in contactless payments at lightning speed.

How many cardholders are adapting? According to Visa®, 31 million Americans tapped a Visa contactless card or digital wallet in March 2020, up from 25 million in November, with overall contactless usage in the U.S. growing 150% since March 2019. It’s important to note, however, that this statistic isn’t just about contactless cards, but also digital wallets and alternative payments and the increasing market demand for them.

The U.S. now has the most contactless cards of any market globally at 175 million, with nine of the top 10 U.S. issuers actively rolling out new contactless cards to customers.2 As contactless payment methods gain traction, businesses must look at how they are enabling their customers and employees to limit physical interaction at the point of sale. This includes eliminating the need for the cardholder’s signature. Is your business ready?

Is dropping the signature safe?

Merchants in the U.S. have the choice to support a tap-to-pay experience without the need to capture a signature, which helps further limit physical interaction at the checkout terminal. In fact, 90 of the top 100 tap-to-pay enabled merchants in the U.S. have already removed signatures.3 Receipt signatures become unnecessary as businesses move to EMV-enabled devices.

Remember when cardholders had to get used to inserting their cards into the point-of-sale (POS) device instead of swiping it? In 2015, the card brands laid out new rules for merchants to move to EMV®/Chip card technology. The reason was simple – increased card authentication at the point of sale. To this point, card present counterfeit fraud has dropped 80% when merchants adopt EMV-compliance devices.

Cardholders and businesses alike changed their behavior with the introduction of EMV. The same holds true for contactless payments. Eliminating cardholder signatures makes contactless EMV more appealing in two ways – it helps combat counterfeit card activity and it mitigates cardholder contact at the POS. It also improves customer satisfaction by providing a frictionless and quick payment experience. Adopting a no-signature contactless and contactless EMV strategies is a win-win for both business and cardholders and enables ease of use no matter the payment environment – online, mobile or in-store.

Delivering an exceptional experience

As merchants open back up, they are looking for convenient and safe ways to accept payments and reassure their customers. At the most basic level, it starts with the POS device. EMV has become the norm since 2015, but there are still some industries or smaller businesses that have deferred purchasing contactless payment devices. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is changing this as demand for contactless acceptance increases.

Beyond offering customers the best payment experience, small businesses are in need of a helping hand. Enter the real-time payments (RTP) network - the first new core payments infrastructure in the U.S. in more than 40 years.The RTP network provides an opportunity to better serve small businesses by offering them same-day funding, seven days a week. Be sure to ask your payment processor about the solutions that are the right fit for your business.

We’re all in this together. Enabling merchants to shift their payment experience to contactless, including online, order ahead, in-app and curbside, gives them the edge on successfully reopening. By supporting small businesses, we can all play a part in navigating what commerce looks like in the future.


1 - Credit Suisse Study, “Payments, Processors & FinTech, January 2020 / 2 - Visa / 3 - Visa / 4 -

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