QR code payment and text-to-pay, both touchless forms of payment, are experiencing a surge in adoption. Since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country, U.S. consumers have been hesitant to use PIN pads. Early guidance from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised people to wash or sanitize their hands after touching surfaces – if coronavirus was present on the surface and people touched their eyes, nose or mouth, it could result in developing COVID-19. Although more is now known about transmission, and it appears that close contact with an infected person is the primary way to catch the disease, there’s still a chance that touching a shared device could lead to infection.
Apparently, that’s a chance people don’t want to take The National Retail Federation reports that coronavirus has driven higher use of contactless payments, and 94 percent of retailers surveyed expect an increase in contactless payments in the next 18 months.
To accept mobile wallet or contactless card payments, merchants need a card reader with near-field communication (NFC) technology that enables communication with a contactless payment card or mobile app on a smartphone. They may also need to make changes to their payment solution to process contactless transactions. For example, they can work with their payments solution provider to remove/disable all prompts that the customer would see on the payment terminal, such as requesting a signature, amount confirmation, or authorization to run a debit card as credit, so the consumer doesn’t have to interact with the PIN pad at all.
Additionally, consumers need to have either contactless cards or mobile wallets to make this type of payment. Each of those factors may be a barrier to completing a contactless payment.
However, touchless payment experiences can be accomplished in other ways:
QR Code Payments
In QR code payment transactions, merchants print out a 2D code that customers scan with the cameras on their smartphones. The code takes consumers to a payment page, similar to what they’d use to make an online purchase. There’s nothing for the customer to download, and if payment data is stored on the consumer’s phone, it can autopopulate — the customer can complete the payment with just a few taps.
The merchant’s payments solution provider can customize the page as needed, for example, setting it up as a fixed fee for a service or enabling the customer to enter the payment amount, such as when donating to a nonprofit organization. The payment solutions provider also ensures that all payment security measures are in place and payments are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), keeping the merchant’s PCI scope to a minimum.
Text to Pay
Another relatively quick way to create a touchless payment experience is to deploy a text-to-pay solution. This technology enables merchants to text a payment link, which takes customers to a payment page or allows them to pay directly from the link.
Text-to-pay is not only an excellent solution for touchless in-person payments, but also for merchants that bill on a subscription basis. Although emails may go unnoticed, a text will capture a consumer’s attention, making it a great way to remind them that a monthly payment is due. With a text-to-pay solution, the customer can also make the payment on the spot, with just a few clicks. As with QR code payments, the merchant’s payment company manages security and PCI compliance.
A Time for Innovative Solutions
Merchants with the technology in place to accept NFC contactless payments when the pandemic began found themselves with an advantage as consumers looked for touchless transactions. But not all merchants were prepared to accept these types of payments, and not all consumers had contactless cards or mobile wallets so that they could make them.
QR code payments and text-to-pay solutions are practical ways for virtually any merchant to accept a payment from any consumer with a smartphone, providing the safe, touchless, distanced experiences consumers demand.