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Contactless Payment Methods Soar During Pandemic

COVID-19 has forced people to make lifestyle adjustments. Among those changes is how to pay for purchases.

In the annual State of Retail Payments study, the National Retail Federation found that contactless credit cards and mobile pay have increased 69% since January 2020.

SpartanNash grocery stores began experimenting with such payments before COVID-19 pushed touchless technology to the forefront.

SpartanNash began implementing touchless technology as a pilot program prior to the pandemic, and we accelerated our implementation in April 2020 to eliminate a touchpoint for customers as an increased safety precaution,” said Director of Retail Marketing Jessica Wong.

That technology has skyrocketed in mid-Michigan. Michigan State University Federal Credit Union began offering contactless payment in 2019 with its Visa Signature card.

“Tap-to-pay technology exploded in popularity in spring 2020, when the coronavirus upended how many people think about their daily interactions, including how they pay,” said MSUFCU Chief Marketing Officer Deidre Davis, “Our year-over-year growth for credit card tap-to-pay transactions was 125%. For debit cards, tap-to-pay transactions saw year-over-year growth of 189%.”

Touchless cards contain a secure chip and a radio antenna, Davis explained. Holding a card inches from a terminal sends a special code to complete the transaction.

“There’s no need to swipe, sign or dip,” she said.

Davis said touchless transactions are here to stay.

“More people are joining in on the trend. According to Visa, 31 million Americans tapped a Visa contactless card or digital wallet in March 2020 — up from 25 million in November 2019,” Davis said. “Overall usage of contactless payments in the U.S. has grown 150% since March 2019.”