The (Relatively) Easy Choice…

by Jack Hojnar

Of my two favorite fast food restaurants, one serves Chinese food, the other Italian beef sandwiches. Both are family-owned and community landmarks. Both typically have lines out the door - even in sub-zero weather. And both only take cash.

In an effort to continue to support local business during the Covid-19 crisis, I was about to place an order for Sesame Chicken, Beef Fried Rice and Chicken Egg Foo Yung when I realized I’d have to get cash. That wasn't the issue. In this swirling environment of Covid-19, the last thing I wanted? To touch money.

The emergence of contactless payments is by no means a recent phenomenon. Nor is its origins necessarily rooted with a financial institution.

The Mobil Speedpass was one of the first contactless payment mechanisms offered to US consumers - in 1997. In 2014, nearly 20 years later, Apple Pay launched. Since that time, Apple Pay has more than 383 million users worldwide, almost 43 percent of its user base. Android Pay followed not too long after and within the last year, all Visa cards provide contactless payment.

While it may seem odd that some retail stores and restaurants still remain cash only, the reason for contactless payments seems like a logical and simple choice given our current health environment.

On March 3rd, the World Health Organization issued an alert advising consumers to avoid cash and switch to contactless payments to deter transmission of the novel coronavirus. Delivery apps disabled COD (Cash on Delivery) as a possible payment option. And a consumer survey by The Futurist Group, showed a 27% increase in consumer belief that contactless payments were necessary.

The trends in consumer use of contactless payments are increasing regardless and the concerns associated with Covid-19 simply enable the system to increase awareness and usage. An article from MobilePaymentsToday.com stated,

"In the U.S. market, contactless transaction values are expected to rise at an even higher rate than the global market, reaching $1.5 trillion by 2024, compared with about $178 billion in 2020." (MobilePaymentsToday.com)

Fortunately for anyone using contactless payments, the benefits associated with most cards changes very little, if at all.

Travel Products tend not to be impacted by contactless payments as any purchases often occur online or via calls to a contact center. Within retail, even though online shopping is growing each year, card benefits such as Warranty Manager still work and apply the same way as if the card was swiped; the way the transaction is processed doesn't affect the benefits associated with the card.

It's tough to conceive of the downside of using credit cards for payments given the immense variety of offers that convert every card purchase into some form of reward. Certainly paying by credit card has risks for those consumers with poor spending habits or poor money management skills. For those consumers where such issues are not present, options like cashback cards, travel reward cards or co-branded cards that provide purchase discounts, make complete sense.

With debit cards - or cash - few rewards exist. Moreover, traditional insurance benefits aren't found with debit cards; it's these benefits that truly bring purchasing power to every transaction.

Provided the consumer understands the obligations required of owning and using a credit card, here are some additional reasons to embrace contactless payments:

FInally, some tips to get you up-and-running with contactless payments for any type of mobile phone: Here's your guide to setting up mobile payments

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