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Contactless Payment: What Merchants Need to Know

Imagine a future in which shoppers pull up to your checkout counter, wave their credit cards or mobile phones, and then walk out with their purchases.

It almost sounds too good to be true.

The future is here. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express have all launched their own contactless payment technologies, and there are now a host of mobile-ready apps that allow transactions to happen with a wave of the phone.

Contactless payment options are becoming increasingly popular as consumers and merchants alike embrace the many advantages of this innovative technology:

  • Shoppers enjoy the speed and convenience of contactless payments. They don't have to enter in signatures or PINs. And they don't have to wait as long in line to buy the products they desire.
  • Merchants enjoy faster transactions (i.e. more purchases per hour). This means higher profits and increased customer satisfaction.

But despite these benefits, you can't begin accepting contactless payments overnight. Making the transition involves a few steps:

1. Hardware Upgrades

You need upgraded terminals that can wirelessly process transactions. Legacy credit card readers can't accept contactless payments.

2. Software Updates

Because contactless payments often integrate with in-store computers or tablets, you also need to invest in the appropriate software.

3. New Compliance Rules

Contactless payments are often more secure than traditional swipe & sign credit card transactions. This is because wireless payment technology is harder to clone (you must have a card or mobile device with you at the point of sale). That being said, contactless payments carry slightly different compliance rules.

4. Employee Training

Contactless payments have yet to become mainstream in the U.S. And many consumers who already have the technology don't know how to use their contactless cards or smartphones. Consequently, your staff will have to guide them through the payment process, especially in the early stages. Your employees will also need to understand how to initiate refunds and chargebacks. For staff training tips, click here.

5. Pilot Testing

Once you're up and running, it may take a few days to work out the wrinkles. This is why many merchants do test runs to make sure everything works smoothly.

After doing all of the above, you're ready for a full contactless payment system rollout.

Is Contactless Payment Worth the Investment?

The above steps may seem overwhelming — especially for a technology that has yet to become universal. So does it really make sense to upgrade your current payment system?

For most businesses, the answer is yes.

  • Firstly, the above steps aren't nearly as intimidating as they seem. The Smart Card Alliance has published an intuitive guide to help you get up and running with minimal hassle.
  • Secondly, expanding the number of payment options in your store is an investment that usually pays for itself. This is especially true given the shorter queues and faster transaction speeds that contactless payments offer.

However, the best strategy is to do a limited run (i.e. one terminal at one register). Thereafter, do a cost-benefit analysis and decide whether or not it makes sense to scale up.

Have questions about getting started with contactless payments? Click below to get started today.

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