Chief Operating Officer Handepay
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Why contactless payment can boost your business

11th Apr 2014
Chief Operating Officer Handepay
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Five tips when going contactless

Contactless payments speed up transaction times, cut down on queues and, given that a transaction takes less than a second, reduces sales lost to customers who don’t have time to waste.

There are currently 36.3 million contactless enabled cards in circulation nationally, with contactless activity growing at a rate of 22 per cent every quarter. In the lead up to September 2013, an incredible £461.6million was spent with VISA contactless alone in the UK.

Now may be the perfect time for your business to go contactless. Whether you're weighing up your options for the first time or researching the additional capabilities of your current card payment system, these top tips should help you along the way:

1. How it works

Contactless payment terminals work by using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to communicate with chip cards. Participating terminals allow consumers to pass their contactless card within 5cm of the display screen in order to register a payment.

The contactless concept was developed in 2008, as the London Underground began to offer Oyster cards - contactless cards which enabled rapid debits from pre-loaded balances, in turn, making journeys quicker and easier for both the transport operators and passengers.

Contactless is ideal for businesses who deal with low value, frequent transactions e.g. newsagents, bakeries, chemists, takeaways,bars and convenience stores. Each transaction has a ceiling of £20 and the number of consecutive contactless transactions is restricted to five, at which point the customer will be prompted to enter their PIN.

2. Protect your business and customers

You won’t be exposed to any greater risk of fraud as contactless cards use the same high level of technology that’s behind chip and PIN.

Naturally, as contactless payment systems have become more popular there have been some concerns over safety. For example, people claim to have accidentally paid for items via contactless payment systems as their cards, hidden within pockets/bags, pass by an active machine, or paid for items multiple times as they repeatedly tried to use contactless systems.

Realistically these cases are extremely isolated; systems don’t just take payments on their own, human authorisation is required - contactless only take one payment from one card at one time.

3. Understand the terminals’ capabilities

Contactless terminals are capable of everything a chip and PIN terminal does, with the additional feature of contactless. Also, given the fast-paced nature of contactless, receipts aren’t automatically but are available at cardholders’ request.

4. A money saver

Contactless payments from debit cards incur lower costs to businesses than chip and PIN - ideal for low value sales.

Although merchants may need to update their terminal to allow for the use of contactless cards, the cost is generally the same as installing traditional chip and PIN.

Savings can also be made where receipts are concerned, as contactless terminals only print merchant receipts i.e half the amount of paper rolls to purchase.

5. Recognise future developments

The current transaction limit of £20 is under review and may in future allow for more expensive purchases, which will of course include further anti-fraud measures.

In addition to cards, there are a range of gadgets in development using contactless e-wallets, containing customers’ virtual cards, including smartphones, wristbands and watches.

* Andy Macauley is Chief Operating Officer at merchant services company Handepay. To download a free guide to contactless, visit


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