Major retailers, credit card companies and technology companies have been busy rolling out payment systems that don’t require any touching, with Lakeland-based Publix being the latest supermarket chain to announce it's rolling out the technology that supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other contactless options.
“In these unprecedented times, we recognized the need to make our customers’ trips to our stores faster and more efficient,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones on April 2. “By expediting this payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads.”
Businesses are looking for ways to reduce touch points, which can spread COVID-19.
At core of the technology is near field communication (NFC), which allows a person to hold a device close to a NFC-equipped payment system and electronically pay for a product or service.
Also known as tap-to-pay, the technology doesn’t actually require anything to touch. Once a watch, phone or credit card is close to a payment device, the devices will do a digital handshake and execute the transaction.
All major smartwatch platforms such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung and Wear OS support the technology in some of their models, as do most newer smartphones.
Many banks and credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard make the transactions seamless through software platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
A wide variety of businesses now take NFC payments, including Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum, Best Buy, and Jacksonville-based Larry's Giant Subs.
Another example is ChargePoint, which operates the majority of electric vehicle charging stations across Jacksonville. It recently rolled out an update to add Wear OS smartwatches to its supported contactless devices, which also include Android, Apple Watch and iPhone.
More than 60% of Visa's U.S. transactions occur at a contactless-enabled merchant locations, according to a November 2019 Forbes story, which predicted tap-to-pay would take off in 2020, even before the pandemic was on the horizon.
Because smartwatches and smartphones that use the technology are required to have security authentication measures enabled, companies like MasterCard say the systems are secure.
Many credit and debit cards are available with tap-to-pay chips. If your card doesn’t have one, chances are good that you can request a new card that does.
If a smartwatch or smartphone is used, the customer will also get a digital confirmation or receipt on the device.
Most contactless payment systems have a logo similar to the one in this story.
In some cases customers may also notice signs like “Apple Pay Accepted Here.” One final tip, even if you don’t have a specially advertised system, like Google Pay: Chances are if your device has NFC and a payment system set up, it will work.