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Tap! What to know about contactless cards

August 19, 2022
man shopping in a mall

 1 in 5 consumers made their first contactless payments during the pandemic, and most of us now have this option with our cards or smartphones.

As with any new technology, there will always be questions and concerns from the public, especially when it involves financial security. We can help answer those questions. Let us discuss tap cards and everything you need to know about contactless payments!

What are tap cards?

Debit cards and credit cards now offer "tap to pay" solutions for compatible machines. These are much faster and more convenient for users than inserting a chip. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice security like you would with swiping a magnetic strip!

While these systems have been around for a while, they especially grew in prominence during the pandemic, with an increasing demand for contactless payments. Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay have been around since 2014, but they took a while to catch on. 

How does contactless payments work?

So-called "tap to pay" technology works by using short-range wireless technology between a contactless chip card or mobile device and an enabled checkout terminal. Essentially, when you tap your card or device near the reader (often the universal "contactless" symbol), your payment is sent for authorization. This is done wirelessly through a radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

While it’s called "tap", the card only needs to be close enough to reach the reader, which could be a few centimeters away from the screen. For this reason, "contactless payment" is a more accurate term than "tap to pay".

Benefits of contactless payments

For merchants, adding contactless card technology to your store is a great way to increase sales. Here are a few reasons why!

Convenience

How many times have your customers left their wallets in their cars? How many times have customers been driven away because you cannot accept their payment methods? The ability to pay with any card or even your phone will help you reach the widest possible market.

Contactless payments are up to 10x faster than using a chip, swiping the card, or paying with cash. Users don’t have to insert or find the swiping strip, there’s no waiting period, and they don’t even have to make direct contact. This added speed and convenience will lead to shorter lines in busy stores.

Also, this technology is already in consumers' pockets to a large extent. If you have a smartphone introduced within the last 6 to 8 years, or if you’ve received a new credit card recently, you likely already have the tapping option.

No extra cost

These contactless features are already built into our cards or phones. There’s no limit to how many transactions you can have in a day and there are no fees for contactless payments. They are made exactly the same as another credit or debit payment.

Safety

With new Covid-19 variants spreading around the world, there’s never been a better time to switch to contactless payments. Customers will spend much less time touching your credit card readers and spreading viruses through your businesses.

Security

If you want to boast secure payments at your business, then it’s time to get rid of the magnetic strip reader. Old credit card machines are much less secure than chip readers and contactless transactions, especially if they read the magnetic strip.

Disadvantages of contactless payments

There are no major disadvantages to using contactless payments, but there are some features to be aware of. Here are a few examples.

Payment Limits

Most cards have a contactless limit in place. This is typically between €50 and €250, but it depends on the policies of the bank.

However, this is not a major issue. Most transactions fall below this threshold, and customers can always insert their cards for secure payments if necessary.

Theft

Contactless payments do not require a PIN or authorization signature. This can pose some security issues if the physical card is stolen. However, if you notice your card is missing or stolen, you can freeze or cancel the card immediately by contacting your credit card provider.

You can also dispute any transactions that you did not make. In most cases, you’ll not be responsible for these payments if you do so in a timely manner.

Some contactless phone payments will require a PIN or biometric verification (thumbprint, facial recognition, etc.). These are considered very safe and secure transactions, often far more than traditional cards.

Keep tapping

Now that you know some much about tap-to-pay transactions, you can see why they’re gaining popularity so quickly. The advantages are too big to ignore for both businesses and consumers.

Keep reading our blog for the latest financial information, and sign up with bunq today to explore what we’ve got to offer. It’s free for the first 30 days. 

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