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Will our move to touchless interactions via contactless payments lead to touchless modes of testing, with automation becoming the only option?

Paragon Application Systems


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It’s hard to miss the primary messages being conveyed to society as a whole as the global pandemic continues to influence much of what we do. One catchy phrase that came up recently simply said, don’t touch MEN – Mouth, Eyes and Nose. And for good reason, naturally but the issue of touching has been expanded to include almost everything we used to take for granted. Door handles, lift buttons, shopping carts and baskets to name a few.

Then there is the growing concern over how many times we touch keypads be they at a gas pump, inside a retailers or bank branch or even, the many coded doors we seem to run up against. What about that purchase of a subway, bus or ferry ticket? Who wants to be last out the office and have to key in the numbers to the security system? It would seem that with the pandemic, we have to interact with the world as if we are wearing kid gloves and about to touch something toxic!

In America we are gradually adapting to the use of contactless payments. Unfortunately, it isn’t all smooth sailing as at one large national retailer were tap-and-go has been implemented and support is being provided for those cards with the magic symbol present on a card, customers were surprised when they were asked about a receipt. Would you like paper or be emailed with the receipt – enter your response on the keyboard below … well, we almost got there!

Visa makes it very clear to everyone in the US marketplace that contactless tap to pay with Visa is the best way to pay for all purchases. “When you tap to pay with your contactless card or payment-enabled device, checkout is safe and secure. You can also choose the way you pay whether it’s with a contactless card, payment-enabled phone, smart watch or other device. Paying with your Visa contactless card or device is as simple as 1-2-3.” And yet, talking about seems to bring back memories of recent experiences that highlight how there is still a lot of work to be done on the part of merchants.

In his latest post to the Paragon “Edge” blog, Contactless Payments: A Touchy Subject, Steve Gilde describes an even worse encounter:

“After picking out the materials needed at the store, I head to the self check-out lane in an attempt to leave the store as quickly as possible. But this particular retailer has the fancy new POS kiosks that customers are required to man themselves (i.e., self check-out – I get it), which means picking up a hand-held scanner👆 to record the purchase items, then answering various questions via touchscreen👆, entering my debit PIN👆👆👆👆, and finally answering a question about whether I want a printed or e-mailed receipt👆.

“Overall, a very “high touch” experience that will change only minimally with the use of a contactless card.”

Gilde also notes that:

“Checkout lanes manned by store staff are even worse because they add the extra dimension of close personal contact on top of the regular payment process. In fact, the cash register has emerged as the most dangerous place in the store.”

The US has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the world. There is such a large population that is underbanked. There is a demographic where there is no association between a bank account and debit or even credit cards – shopping online isn’t an option for this portion of society. The resultant parallel infrastructure in place in support of the many options available to Americans is recognizing complexity we would all like to move-on from and yet, the very prospect of expecting all citizens to be happy using contactless payments is simply daunting.

On the other hand, will the spread of COVID-19 become the catalyst for change? Will there be an unintended consequence we will be able to look back upon and say yes, that came out of the global pandemic? Will one tangible and indeed potentially positive result of COVID-19 be something that pushed us into the future of payments that otherwise might have alluded us for many more decades?

It is in his closing comments that Gilde asks whether we will get there, eventually:

“Sure, we will. The current COVID-19 crisis is driving a lot of change from consumers, retailers and payment processors. The thing is, we don’t know how long the current situation will last and we don’t know exactly what changes will be required. We just know that there will be a lot of change coming at us over the next several months and years.”

When it comes to the payments industry and those participants relying on NonStop systems for processing of payments, the changes being triggered by the global pandemic have an important message that should not be ignored. About every system imaginable has been disrupted by COVID-19, the biggest being that nobody likes to touch anything. So, how are you planning on testing your payments systems and the ATMs that the applications support? Do you really want to touch every ATM in the lab?

In his closing comments, this is something Gilde touches on in a positive manner:

“So what can you do? The best way to deal with this stream of never-ending change is to put the people, processes and tools in place that allow your organization to adapt and respond as quickly as possible.”

To read this article published in the Paragon Edge blog, simply click on the hyperlink above or cut and paste this link into your browser –