Even before COVID-19, contactless payments have seen a significant rise in use globally. But for the U.S., it’s taken the pandemic to really cause the trend to take hold.
In pre-pandemic years, the U.S. had been relatively slow in adopting contactless payment methods. Disinterest may have had to do with the lack of benefits contactless payments offered. People who adopted this payment method usually just benefited from only a slightly quicker checkout process.
Security misconceptions have also been a major obstacle for contactless payment growth. Fear of fraud has led to distrust among consumers.
Since the rise of COVID-19, however, behavior towards contactless payments has significantly changed.
31 million Americans used either a Visa contactless card or digital wallet in March 2020 — a 19% increase since last November. And since March 2019, the overall use of contactless payments in the U.S. has increased by 150%.
Mastercard has seen a similar surge in use of contactless cards. A recent global consumer study revealed that almost eight in 10 said they use contactless payments. In between the months of February and March, contactless transactions have increased twice as much as non-contactless transactions in grocery and pharmacy purchases.
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“A founder of a payments startup I spoke to a few years ago put it perfectly: “Until I know I can go to the gym without my wallet, and know I can buy a bottle of water on my way home, people are still going to use cash/card.””
Fintech Lead, OurCrowd
“You know what would really accelerate contactless payments in the U.S.? A consistent point of sale experience. Seemingly every terminal has a "right place" to tap, you can't easily tell if you can tap and people behind the counter are under trained on process.”