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Contactless Payments Becoming New Normal

As Our Lives and Routines Continually Change, So Do the Ways We Pay

There’s no doubt — the popularity of contactless payments is trending upward. In fact, many merchants are even now requesting the usage of contactless at their points of sale (POS), as a means of better protecting their customers and employees. People are generally concerned that POS terminals, cash, and coins are laden with germs.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following recommendations related to in-person transactions:

  • Limit contact with frequently-touched surfaces such as kiosks, digital interfaces such as touchscreens, fingerprint scanners, ticket machines, etc.
  • If you must touch these surfaces, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or at minimum rub your hands with sanitizer containing 60% alcohol, as soon as possible.
  • If you must exchange cash or credit cards, place them in a receipt tray or on the counter rather than exchanging them hand-to-hand, if possible.
  • Use touchless payments whenever available.

The Rise of Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets are gaining in popularity around the world because of their convenience, security, and — more recently — their contactless appeal.

What are they?

The most prevalent mobile wallets include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay. Each one allows you to input your credit and/or debit card information into a mobile device and make purchases both in-person and online, if accepted by the merchant.

The supporting app stores your card information in a secure digitized format. The convenience comes through to you in multiple ways, allowing you to leave a physical wallet and your actual cards at home while you pay using your cell phone, tablet, or even a smartwatch instead.

How do they work?

It has become an intuitive and user-friendly process to begin using a mobile wallet.

  • Visit the app store on your device.
  • Install the corresponding mobile wallet app.
  • Put in your preferred payment card details.
  • Confirm your identity via a PIN, fingerprint, or face scan.
  • Use your mobile wallet with participating merchants:
    - Just open the app.
    - Position your phone over the terminal.
    - Pay.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay logosLook for these logos at checkout to know whether a merchant accepts your mobile wallet.

Where do they work?

Your favorite places! The list of popular retailers, restaurants, transit companies, small businesses, apps and web-based merchants that accept mobile wallet payments is growing daily — from Costco to Target and McDonald’s to Starbucks, and countless others, even vending machines. Search for your merchants via the links below. 

Apple Pay lovers are loyal. 
Learn where to use Apple Pay.

Google Pay was formerly Android Pay.
Learn where to use Google Pay.

Samsung Pay is the most widely accepted.
Learn where to use Samsung Pay.

Are they secure to use?

Mobile wallets are one of the most secure forms of payment today and more fraud-proof than using physical cards. The transaction takes place through a digital method called tokenization. This encrypting automatically replaces your account numbers with unique alpha/numeric codes that share all the essential information temporarily without compromising or storing the actual card number. So even in a merchant breach, your credit or debit card number remains safe because your card number was never transmitted to the merchant.

Always remember to keep your smartphone well-charged if you’re going to rely on it to pay for things on the go!

- Tech Tip

What about Tap to Pay?

Keep in mind that as long as your merchant is contactless-compatible, members can tap to pay with their Elements-issued credit cards. Simply look for this symbol to know if you can tap to pay at a register.

Hygiene & Habits Reign Supreme

Regardless of what type of payment method you use in a retail environment, keep the guidance of the CDC at the forefront of your mind. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently after contact. Keep hand sanitizer in your vehicle, purse, or pocket. Sanitize your phone screen regularly and maintain social distancing guidelines with retail staff and other customers while making any in-person transaction.

Your credit union is here to support you with modern contactless methods and simple yet important reminders to help you feel better-protected and more comfortable while shopping and spending.

Please reach out to us with your questions about contactless payments.

Sources: cdc.gov; Hawaii State Federal Credit Union; PaymentsJournal.com

This information is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal, tax or financial advice. Consult with your tax, legal or financial adviser before taking any action.

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