COVID 19 Forces Contactless Adapters

More Than Half of U.S. Consumers Now Use Some Form of Contactless Payments, Mastercard Says

Contactless payments may finally be gaining further adoption by U.S. consumers. Spurred by prevention efforts in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, many consumers—51%—use some form of contactless payment, Mastercard Inc. says.

In what may be the most detailed data yet publicly released about U.S. consumers and contactless payments, Mastercard’s survey of 1,000 U.S. banked consumers between April 10 and 12 also found that 88% of those who had an opinion said adoption was easy. More telling may be that 56% say they will continue using a contactless payment method when the pandemic ends.

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Mastercard, the other card brands, and Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple Inc. and Google, have been promoting contactless payments for years. The tipping point, it appears, may have come with concerns over cleanliness and social distancing driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the marketing for contactless payments centered on convenience in drive-throughs and in transit. In the first quarter, global contactless payment use increased 40% from a year ago.

A consumer taps a contactless card at a point-of-sale terminal in a Target store.

These perceptions of safety and convenience, however, prompted nearly 33% to put a contactless card in the coveted top-of-wallet position. That figure climbs to 43% for those under 35 years old and to 35% for affluent consumers. Overall, 57% say paying via contactless is a little or much more top-of-mind now than pre-pandemic.

Indeed, 51% say they are using cash less often or not at all since the pandemic began. Globally, 80% of contactless transactions are less than $25. Mastercard also conducted the survey in 18 other countries. In many international locations, the card brands have increased the limits for contactless transactions.

“Social distancing does not just concern people’s interactions with each other. It includes contact with publicly shared devices like point-of-sale terminals and checkout counters,” said Blake Rosenthal, Mastercard’s executive vice president and head of acceptance solutions. “Contactless offers consumers a safer, cleaner way to pay, speed at checkout, and more control over physical proximity at this critical time.”

Seventy-seven percent of U.S. consumers surveyed say contactless payment is a cleaner way to pay and 70% say it’s more convenient than cash.  Sixty-seven percent view it as faster than cash and 45% say it is their preferred in-store payment option. A majority—51%—view contactless payments as more secure than cash and 49% say Covid-19 prevention efforts inspired them to use contactless.

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