Europe has always been way ahead, first in chip card adoption, now in contactless adoption, so what I saw should not have been a surprise. To actually experience it though; as they say, seeing is believing.
I recently took a business trip to Austria and Italy. The obvious wonders are the majestic beauty and the incredible food and drink. As a skiing fan and closet foodie I was not disappointed, the Alps were incredible. And something else stood out in my mind.
I never used cash and almost never used a physical credit card.
While the payments were using my credit account, nearly all of these transactions were contactless payments, using my iPhone or my AppleWatch. I’m talking NFC tap to pay transactions, not QR code or using a merchant app. It was amazing and wonderful how prevalent and normalized contactless payments were. Cashiers knew and understood, waiters and waitress knew and understood. Everyone knew. Check outs were so quick and painless, using my watch or phone and never having to pull out my wallet smoothed the whole process, even small transactions were contactless and that was OK for the merchant and that was good for me.
Gone are the days of trying to figure out how much local cash to withdraw from an ATM (shh… I won’t even mention the ancient days of using a money exchange) and worry about how much I’ll have to convert back to US as I exit the country. But it’s even better. I don’t even have to worry about having my wallet handy, my watch is on my wrist and it facilitates quick access to my method of payment.
The US is catching up.
Europe has always been way ahead, first in chip card adoption, now in contactless adoption, so what I saw should not have been a surprise. To actually experience it though; as they say, seeing is believing. I love my contactless. Square and Toast have definitely helped in the US adoption especially with smaller merchants. Larger merchants are still hit and miss – there are a lot of hold-outs (Hello WalMart/Sams, just to name one) – but the tide is turning.
For merchants, it has up front costs to upgrade their systems (which is already required for chip card adoption, by the way), but it does have benefits, it cuts down on fraud and it speeds transactions (especially if you’ve correctly trained your employees). For customers, it also speeds transactions, not only the transaction itself, but pulling out your wallet, digging through your purse, that’s not needed.
You have your cards right on your phone, in your hand, always. It’s also more secure – yes, contrary to what some may think, having your cards on your phone and/or watch is actually more secure than having them in your wallet. That’s another post.
Keep using contactless, keep frequenting merchants that use contactless, enjoy the growth in the US. Enjoy the speed and simplicity of the contactless experience. Happy Tapping.
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