U.S. Payments Forum:  Cashless Society Unlikely

Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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The U.S. Payments Forum released its quarterly Market Snapshot, providing a look at the state of EMV chip adoption in the U.S., fraud, what’s next for payments in 2019 and Forum priorities and projects for the year. 

State of the Market: Transit Can Be a Driver for Contactless Adoption

Contact chip payments are now firmly ingrained in the U.S. market, with payments volume coming from chip-enabled merchants approaching 70%. To improve customer experience and provide more payment choice in-stores, the payments industry is now turning its attention to contactless chip technology for fast and secure payments with a tap of a card or mobile device. Momentum is growing: tens of millions of contactless cards are expected to be issued this year and 78 of the top 100 merchants accept contactless payments today.

Just as in other countries, the U.S. Payments Forum expects that transit will be a driver for contactless payments in the U.S. Large transit agencies have moved or are moving to open contactless payments, including in ChicagoPortland and New York.  

“What we’ve seen in other countries, and expect to see here, is the contactless ‘halo effect’ when transit riders start using contactless cards,” said Randy Vanderhoof, director of the U.S. Payments Forum. “When a large transit agency moves to open contactless payments, issuers get cards in the hands of riders who quickly get used to tapping and seek it out wherever they can. As a result, contactless transactions rise dramatically at merchants in surrounding geographical areas. We’ve seen this in the U.K. and Canada, and will start to see this in the U.S. this year.”

With contactless technology taking center stage, many people have questions about how contactless devices work and what their security features are. To assist, the U.S. Payments Forum launched the website and has published implementation resources.

Trending Topics: It’s Not About Being Cashless, It’s About Providing Choice

Recently, several news outlets have been examining alternative checkout trends and whether the U.S. will become a cashless society. But industry stakeholders are sharing within the U.S. Payments Forum that the primary driver for these trends is consumer choice.

“Merchants are offering more alternative checkout options, but it’s not about ‘going cashless.’ There are consumers that want and need to pay cash, and that likely won’t change. It’s really about providing enhanced customer experiences and choice,” said Vanderhoof. “Whether it’s cash, card, contactless, in-app, online, buy online/pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside – merchants are offering more checkout options to provide that choice and flexibility for customers. And they’re doing it at the same time as they are bumping up investment in fraud prevention technologies. Security should always be integrated with all of these new checkout options.”