Thales is the latest organization to suggest that COVID-19 could accelerate the adoption of contactless payment technologies. The company notes that the amount of cash in circulation has decreased during the pandemic, while online transactions have gone up in the same period.
Now Thales is arguing that some of the changes could be permanent, and that consumers will change their habits as they become more comfortable with contactless payment options. According to a March survey from the Futurist Group, 38 percent of consumers now view contactless capabilities as an essential feature when evaluating a new credit card, a figure that is up more than 26 percent over the previous window.
Thales is particularly bullish on biometric cards, which it regards as the safest option for contactless transactions. With a biometric card, payments are authenticated with a fingerprint reader built into the card itself that allows customers to pay for goods and services without needing to touch the payment terminal to enter a PIN. Mobile wallets offer a similar utility, although in those cases the biometric authentication process is carried out on the customer’s smartphone rather than a standalone biometric card.
While the form factor can change, the overall point is that contactless technology is likely to gain traction because it is safer, cleaner, and more convenient, and that COVID-19 has highlighted those advantages. Financial services providers have raised contactless payment caps during the pandemic, while industry leaders like the World Economic Forum and the Financial Action Task Force have promoted digital onboarding and FIDO’s passwordless authentication standards. In light of those trends, Juniper Research is predicting that the annual volume of contactless transactions will reach $6 trillion by 2024.
Thales is one of several companies that has predicted the rise of contactless payments in the past few months. Both IDEX and FPC have similarly argued that biometric payment cards will become more popular as public health becomes a bigger priority moving forward.