Pleasing your valued customers by providing the ultimate streamlined, efficient, and secure shopping experience should be one of your primary goals as a business owner. That means designing a website and store layout that is conducive to browsing, inquiries, and purchasing. It also means providing targeted marketing and top-shelf customer service that makes buyers feel special. Perhaps most importantly, it means providing shoppers with a secure, fast, and efficient payment experience. These days, setting your business up to accept contactless payments is one of the best ways to accomplish all these goals.

What are contactless payments?

Simply put, contactless payments enable a buyer to purchase items or services without ever coming into physical contact with a merchant or their point of sale (POS) equipment. In an era when hygiene is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, this method of payment provides peace of mind to all parties involved in a transaction.

Advantages of touchless payments.

Both businesses and customers alike are coming to appreciate the upsides of making payments without direct contact. Below are just a few of the most significant benefits.

• Contactless payments are safer. There is no need for either cashier or customer to touch potentially contaminated equipment, devices, or cards, leading to greater peace of mind about the transmission of germs and viruses.

• They’re faster. When patrons are not fumbling for cash or cards, or laboriously writing out checks, your checkout lines can move much more quickly. As a result, your staff’s time will be better spent, with customers able to complete their transactions, and go on with their days without the frustration of a long wait.

• They’re more secure. Because each touchless payment is uniquely tokenized and encrypted, customers’ sensitive information cannot be hijacked by hackers. As a result, buyers’ data is protected, and merchants are less likely to experience costly chargebacks stemming from fraudulent purchases.

• Contactless payments are affordable – with no additional costs for either you or your customers.

• They can improve your bottom line. Shoppers who feel good about the safety, speed, and efficiency of your checkout process are likely to have a long-standing, positive relationship with you. 

These advantages are helping to cement the position of touchless payments in today’s and tomorrow’s retail and ecommerce landscapes because all of the involved parties gain added safety, security, and protection from fraud and data breach.

Types of touchless payments.

Now that you know what touchless payments can do for your business, it’s time to delve deeper into exactly what they are and how they work. The most frequently seen include the following:

• Customers browse online, pay for their products using your store’s payment gateway or virtual terminal, and then pick up their purchases curbside, or have them delivered to their door via services such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS.

• Customers call in an order via the phone. You use your virtual terminal to key in their payment information manually, with the products sent out for delivery, or prepared for curbside pickup.

• For on-site payments, buyers pay using either an EMV card embedded with a special smart chip, or a device such as a smartphone or wearable that is outfitted with a digital wallet. In order to use the wallet, it must first be pre-loaded with the customer’s bank account and credit card information. When the time comes to make a payment, the buyer simply enables their wallet feature, holds their device near the reader, provides authentication of identity via biometrics (face ID or fingerprint) or PIN, and waits for the payment to be securely processed.

As long as your systems comply with the payment card industry’s data security standards (PCI DSS), all parties can be reasonably assured that maximum safety and security procedures have been followed to protect the data that is being stored and transmitted.

How do contactless payments work?

The key player in contactless transactions is near-field communications (NFC) technology that enables two devices – a merchant’s reader and the customer’s phone or device – to communicate on the same radio frequency. As long as both elements are compatible and the customer’s device is a few inches away from the reader, credit card and bank account information can then be securely transmitted to the various players in the payment process. Within a matter of seconds, the customer’s identity is authenticated, and the payment is either accepted or declined. 

How to accept touchless payments at your business.

During these challenging economic times, it’s no wonder that cash-strapped small and mid-sized business owners are reluctant to make changes that would involve investing in new equipment, or upending the comfortable way they have been operating for years. However, as we have seen above, the reasons to pivot your business to provide enhanced payment options are quite compelling. As you consider broadening your retail store’s scope in this way, there are three things you’ll need. 

  1. NFC-compatible hardware. This means that you may need to invest in an upgraded POS system. Most of these systems come with an NFC-compatible reader built in. If yours does not feature this option, you can purchase modules/adapters that can transform your legacy POS into a contactless system. 
  2. PCI-compliant software. You are required to register any contactless device with your payment processing company before you can conduct transactions. In addition, any software you use must be PCI-compliant, meaning that it adheres to the card industry’s requirements that protect the data you store and transmit from cybercriminals. Failure to be PCI-compliant can lead to substantial financial penalties, customer dissatisfaction, and a potentially fatal hit to your reputation and brand.
  3. Appropriate signage and staff training. Once you have taken the plunge and registered your devices to accept contactless payments, the major credit card companies strongly encourage you to prominently display signs indicating this. When people see these universal, highly recognized, and credible symbols, they will be much more likely to feel safe and comfortable using your touchless payments technology. Giving your staff training in advance on how to explain touchless payments to novice customers (and to troubleshoot any difficulties that might arise), can also be extremely helpful in facilitating a seamless buying experience.

The bottom line is that contactless payments are faster, more secure, and more hygienic. Every indication points toward their continued presence in the business landscape for many years to come. If you have not yet incorporated contactless payments into your retail operations, there is no time like the present to leverage them to facilitate your future success.

Contact NAB today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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