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Contactless payment for shops

Reading time: 2 mins

Contactless payment has been making an impact in retail for a few years now with the aim of making it easier for us to pay.

How does contactless payment work?

The system is based on NFC (Near Field Contact) technology, originally invented by the Sony and Philips companies. This wireless technology allows two microchips to exchange encrypted, completely secure information. In contactless payment, the bank card and the payment terminal talk to each other and allow you to make small purchases (100 Gbp maximum) without having to enter your PIN. For the operation to work perfectly, the two microchips must be placed a few centimetres apart – that's all. Quick and easy, when it comes to paying, you forget the tedious, time-consuming step of taking out your chequebook or wallet or searching for the right change.

Contactless payment – the pros and cons

When you know that 75% of purchases are made locally and 75% are also made for amounts of less than 18 Gbp, it is easy to understand why this service has become part of our daily lives. But is it really advantageous?

For merchants, the use of contactless payment streamlines the checkout payment process. An advantage that is also appreciated by the customer as it results in shorter queues. As for price, this solution is currently free for businesses and no bank commissions are charged, unlike for a traditional payment by bank card. So, in short, this solution can only be positive for retailers!

However, many people remain sceptical, mainly due to doubts about the security of this new payment method. Indeed, couldn't this wireless conversation between microchips less than 10 centimetres apart allow a fraudster to suck up bank card data from under the nose of its helpless owner?

In reply, we can say that, as of today, no cases of such fraud have been reported. But, if you want to know how to protect yourself from this danger, you should be aware that you can ask your bank to disable the function on your bank card or get a protective cover that prevents your microchip from communicating with any other terminal.

Today, many bank cards include the free "contactless payment" service and most stores are equipped with it. The Covid-19 crisis and the fear of handling devices that are potentially contaminated have helped this payment practice to expand rapidly.

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