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COVID 19 has super-charged the growth of digital payments

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for massive change in the way the world does business. From the work-from-home movement to the perpetual growth in online shopping, the need for keeping a safe distance has reshaped online and offline commerce.

According to a recent study by Visa*, tap-to-pay transactions have grown more than 30% year over year during the pandemic. By giving customers a chance to avoid physical contact by tapping their card, or device, against a point-of-sale terminal instead of inserting or swiping, these payments offer a simple way to eliminate a point of contact and possible spread of germs. 

The trend extends outside of North America, with cash slowly and surely fading from use. Cash-loving countries like Germany have reported a 50% increase in contactless payments, and more than 48 countries have increased the transaction limit for those payments. Most Canadian stores, for example, increased the tap transaction limits from $100 to $250 in 2020.

The vast majority of banks now offer tap-enabled credit or debit cards. In the US, nearly every major bank rushed to provide customers with contactless payment capabilities in 2019, with Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Wells Fargo all launching contactless programs that year. Tap-to-pay has also been adopted by the transportation industries, with contactless terminals popping up in bus stations, subways, and taxis.

A fad or a lasting change?

Tap-to-pay is here to stay. Much in the same way as many restaurants have adopted QR codes with digital versions of their menus to replace physical menus, many businesses say contactless payments have made life easier. In fact, many businesses say they risk losing business by not offering contactless payments.

Additionally, consumers never want to move backwards in terms of convenience—only forward. Since contactless payments often require less effort and make payments quicker, experts predict that the demand for touch-free payment systems will only continue to increase as it becomes more commonplace.