Beyond the Stripe Swipe: “Contactless” Cards Are Booming

We write a lot about the coming changes to “charge cards” as we’ve known them, for a couple generations. Changes driven both by technology, and the vulnerabilities of that technology. For example, as a regular reader of these posts, you know that EMV cards are coming, with adaptation being pushed even faster by news of massive breaches at Target, Neiman-Marcus, and other retailers.

Another type, or way, to say “charge it” is also growing fast. We’ve touched on it before here, but lately it’s back in the news as roll-outs and usage climbs — especially in the EU, and UK. We speak of “contactless” charging, which is poised to find its way to U.S. shores.

According to Visa Europe, in 2013 “cardholders used their contactless cards to make more than 94.3 million purchases in the UK, simply by tapping their cards on available readers, a number that’s up more than three-fold from the year before.

The article notes that other top markets in the EU for contactless use are the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.  Adoption is being driven by larger retailers, including a few who are very well known to U.S. consumers, such as McDonald’s and Starbuck’s.

While U.S. stores haven’t taken up the change yet, American transit riders are becoming increasingly familiar with the technology, used by systems like L.A.’s Metro, and currently being rolled out in Chicago, as well:  riders can brush their own cards by a reader, which then deducts the required amount  (in L.A., for example, these are specific cards designed for Metro use).

The idea is that eventually such systems would work with “regular”-style credit cards, for small purchases.

In fact, as the idea of “contactless” charging gains traction, by the time the practice is widespread here, it may not involve “cards” at all: Juniper research thinks that an even broader form of “contactless” charging, involving cell phones and hand devices will reach a staggering 10 billion by 2018.

You can read more about their prognostications at the link, but suffice it to say that the changes, and the challenges will be coming rapidly for the foreseeable future.

AVPS wants to journey into that future with you, so contact your Rep today to make sure you’re covered from past (paper checks, ACH and more) to the present (eCommerce, etc.), and beyond.

Tomorrowland is already here. Come visit it with us. 

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