COVID-19 Boosts the Prospect of Contactless Commerce


National Retail Federation | May 27, 2020


As the growing desire to minimize human contact leads to an increase in touchless fulfillment models, consumers’ mobile devices have become the primary portal for ordering, payments and updates.


The “hygiene-centric value proposition” has led to a surge in contactless payments and retailers encouraging mobile payments, adoption of curbside pickup options with encouragement to pay before hand.


Some retailers including, Best Buy, Office Max and Target have had these strategies already in place. Burger King and Chick-Fil-A have both since implemented contactless payment options through apps. Publix Super Markets rolled out contactless payments to its 1,200 stores in the southeast, and in late March, Walmart made changes to the Walmart Pay app so customers no longer had to touch a screen at self-checkout.


Richard Crone, CEO of Crone Consulting, estimates the use of contactless payments has grown by 20 percent since the start of the pandemic. While primary players like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay have reported increased use, so have others. Smaller retailers and businesses are also rolling out new contactless payment options through providers like Square and Venmo.


“Consumers want safety, and they want to know when they have to touch something that it’s sanitized,” Crone says. “There’s nothing more assuring than their own phone.”


Consumers have been slowly introduced to touchless payments and are becoming more comfortable with it. Blake Rosenthal, global head of acceptance solutions at Mastercard says, “Once they adopt that behavior, they rarely go back. COVID is another catalyst and tipping point for many people.”


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