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Friday, May 21, 2021

Dongle-free options ignite contactless commerce

In the post-pandemic retail landscape, 75 percent of U.S.-based small and midsize businesses (SMBs) expect demand for contactless payments to remain strong, even after vaccines are widely available, according to Visa’s Back to Business Study. Findings were based on a November 2020, survey by Wakefield Research of 2,250 merchants and 5,000 consumers in nine countries: Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Russia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates, with adults of 18 years and higher in each market, researchers stated.

“Small and medium-sized businesses represent more than 90% of the world’s total businesses and more than half of global GDP, making them a vital contributor to the world’s economy,” Visa researchers wrote. “But the impact of Covid-19 left many small businesses vulnerable to severe challenges, including permanent closure, which can have real, lasting impact. The resilience of the small and micro business (SMBs) community, however, proved powerful as many quickly adapted to new ways of doing business as a result.”

Jennifer Sherman, chief product and experience officer at NMI, observed that people continue to fear disease transmission in stores and public venues, despite rising vaccination rates. “Our recent [2020 Holiday Spending Insights Report] found nearly 30 percent of consumers uncomfortable using cash to make purchases and 53 percent using contactless payments,” she said. “We believe we’ll continue to see a germophobic population.”

Contactless initiatives

Sherman mentioned that Visa and Mastercard are promoting contactless best practices in the retail community. Visa’s Tap to Phone and Mastercard’s Tap on Phone initiatives are designed to accelerate contactless commerce by enabling SMBs to use their own mobile devices to accept touchless payments, she explained.

“The same technology and NFC chip that sits on your phone and lets you use Apple and Google Pay will also let you take a payment,” Sherman said. “This means SMB merchants don't have to buy additional hardware or swap out hardware to support contactless; the solution is in their pockets today.”

NMI has also launched a hardware-free contactless solution, Sherman added. NMI’s Tap on Mobile allows consumers to pay by tapping their contactless credit card, smartphone, mobile watch or mobile wallet on any Android device. SMBs no longer have to purchase or use extra hardware to accept these payments, she stated.

Wearables market

DIGISEQ, a UK-based technology startup, released Rapid Contactless Personalisation (Rcos), debuted a payment wearable technology on May 21, 2021. Compatible with Android and iOS devices, the solution uses Mastercard’s technology to tokenize cardholder data. Users can download a mobile app to provision any wearable with a suitable NFC chip through the Manage Mii application, transforming it into a contactless payment device in place of a card and speeding up the process of purchasing with payments functionality, company representatives stated.

David Birch, non-executive chairman at DIGISEQ, commended the company’s breakthrough technology, stating that co-founders Terrie Smith, chief executive officer and Colin Tanner, chief technology officer, have deep knowledge of tokenization technology. He added that a live demo of an Rcos transaction can be viewed on YouTube using this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcfJod9BvvA.

“[Smith and Tanner] know this space intimately, having led the product development of tokenisation at MasterCard in 2014 that supports solutions such as Apple Pay,” Birch said. “They co-founded DIGISEQ to revolutionise services in the contactless wearables and smart objects space and they are delivering on that promise by building a fantastic company which they are now scaling up to deliver mass market payments for the Internet of Things, in the new contact-free economy.’

Improving customer experience

Sherman emphasized that payments industry stakeholders can collaboratively improve the contactless customer experience. “The developer community needs to think about the user experience and how to eliminate points of friction and consumer confusion,” she said. “Consumers need to know where they are going to tap, because it differs from phone to phone, and manufacturer decide where NFC chips fit.”

Merchants need to ask their payments providers when they will support BYOD contactless solutions, Sherman stated. Software vendors should ask their processing partners when their technology stacks will support touchless commerce and which devices they support. Merchant level salespeople should ask when their firms will complete certifications, as standards are evolving. And everyone should ask issuers how they will ensure all cards will be contactless.

“Ultimately, Tap on Mobile will not replace the need for industrial, ruggedized POS solutions,” Sherman said. “I don't expect my grocery store clerk to have a tethered phone at a checkout station but it’s perfect for many other use cases, such as curbside and in-store pickup, home delivery and in-store mobile checkout.”

end of article

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