Jewelers Suite featuring JHJ Magazine

Contactless Payments: Took a Pandemic to gain traction!

written by Joe Radest

How the world has changed in the last 12 weeks.  In many ways, personal and professional ways of life have changed.   Within my line of work, I have been speaking about contactless payment acceptance having widespread adoption in the European and Southeastern Asian markets for the last 2-3 years!  Yet, it took a viral pandemic to awaken our markets and create the user adoption between business and the consumer.

Prior to the Coronavirus impacting our market, there were some contactless payment acceptance being done, but it was largely tied to the Quick Serve Market (QSR) space.  QSRs such as Starbucks, Chick Fil A, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, etc. launched their own mobile apps with full menus and customers were offered incentives, to use them.  Create your profile, link a payment card, load value in the apps wallet and every purchase earned you points towards free food/beverages.  The incentives are still there, but for the QSR it was huge, speed up the service and added benefit, can track the customers behavioral spend.

When the viral pandemic hit, those very apps created an added bonus to the QSRs, they were one less touch point with the customer.  No need to handle cash or the payment card.  The apps were contactless payment acceptance.

Today there are 10 mobile payment apps that are opened ended.  Open ended is not tied to a specific retailer or restaurant. Think Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay as examples, you can store multiple payment cards and with the phone within proximity of the payment terminal it will wirelessly communicate through Near Field Communications (NFC).  Most of the newer smartphone have NFC chips embedded. The apps have been available for quite some time but adoption between merchants and consumers came to light recently due toCOVID-19. 

Contactless payment acceptance can also be accomplished with the actual payment cards.  Some cards have the NFC chip within them and on the front end of the card, you can see the common WIFI symbol.  That implies Contactless – within my industry, we call those cards tap and go. 

  • As a jeweler, it is worth asking, what are the inherit risks with Contactless acceptance? 
  • Is it the same as card not present – keyed entered? 

The answer is no to both questions, because Contactless acceptance does have the recognition that the card was present – validated either via Mobile App (i.e. Apple Pay) or NFC chip on card.  The chargeback protections follow down the same route as EMV chip read.  The financial aspect looming even larger in the merchant’s benefit, Contactless payment acceptance has the same interchange expense rates as the card present (EMV) read. 

With the sanitary aspects into light, Contactless removes the step of cleaning a payment terminal from one customer to another if you are in a state where policies exist, or it has become your store policy moving forward. 

Not changing the subject here, but what does Garth Brooks have to do with Contactless Payments?  He just announced a concert tour, whereby he will hit the road and perform at 300 Drive-In Concert Venues across America, beginning June 27th.  Tickets can be bought online but any food, drinks, or concert gear at the venues will only accept contactless forms of payment.  No cash or physical card is accepted.

The use of Contactless Payments is here to stay.  The convenience and security for both consumers and merchants alike, will drive more sales being completed in this manner.  If you haven’t tried it personally, within your phone, it contains a mobile wallet, open it up and link a payment card or two.  Then go buy a cup of coffee and see the simplicity. 

As a jeweler what do you need to do to roll out Contactless Payment Acceptance?  You will need the card payment terminal to have the capability to support NFC.  If it does, then ask your merchant service provider if the device can read Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, given those 3 are the largest of the mobile wallets today.  If the answer is yes, you can roll out Contactless. 

I would strongly suggest making sure you can tie your entire stores’ card payment acceptance to one merchant account.  You certainly want to link the following as it applies to your jewelry store;

  • Contactless Acceptance
  • Traditional Counter
  • Mobile
  • E-Commerce
  • Layaways

A brief plug if you will indulge me here, at 1 Step Technologies, our payments firm supports jewelers and we have engineered the payments suite for the jewelry industry, both retail and wholesale ends.  Our suite of payments has supported Contactless for the last 2 years in addition to Pay by Text or Email, Mobile, Counter, E-Commerce and Recurring.  We have an extensive list of jewelers utilizing and benefitting from our payment solutions.   We are more than welcome to provide references as part of any due diligence on your end. I hope you embrace Contactless Payment Acceptance whether through my firm or someone else.  Thank you.