The Contactless Payment Experience

While there are dozens of different payment methods available, contactless payments are definitely the current hot topic. In the United States, overall usage of contactless payments rose 150% between March 2019 and June 2020. A recent Mastercard poll showed that 51% of Americans are now using some form of contactless payments.

Mastercard’s poll also asked respondents where they use contactless cards. Here’s a breakdown of their responses:

  • Grocery: 85%
  • Pharmacy: 39%
  • Retail: 38%
  • Quick service restaurants (QSRs), fast food: 36%
  • Transit: 9%

Difficult Transitions to Contactless

While the shift to contactless payment methods has happened at a rapid pace, there has also been a definite learning curve for businesses trying to meet demand for this new functionality.

Everyone has examples of experiences where they, as a customer, have encountered unsuccessful or cumbersome stop-gap measures as businesses tried to quickly adjust to their customers’ demand for no-contact interactions.

I recently went to a pharmacy drive-through window to pick up a prescription. I had paid for the prescription ahead of time via the pharmacy app, which gave me both a QR code for the pharmacist to scan, or a numerical code to tell the pharmacist to input into the system to verify that I had already paid. The pharmacist working the drive-through window hadn’t been trained on how to input the verbal numerical code, so she tried to get me to hand my cell phone through the window so she could scan the QR code - which would have defeated the point of trying to make the transaction contactless.

A coworker recently went to a doctor’s appointment, and when it came time to pay, the receptionist awkwardly used a tissue to handle the credit card.

A friend of mine took her dog to the vet and due to new protocols had to wait in her car while the dog was examined. After the visit was complete, the receptionist had to call to attempt to secure payment over the phone. However, my friend was on a conference call and couldn’t answer the receptionist’s call - which ended up prolonging when they could bring her dog back out to the car.

These examples are just a small sample of negative user experiences that could have been avoided if the businesses had implemented proper contactless payment functionality. With the implementation of new contactless payment options, businesses have the opportunity to delight customers and provide them with an enjoyable experience rather than one that leaves them feeling frustrated and oftentimes uncomfortable.

Person holding a cell phone over a contactless credit card reader

Use Cases for Contactless Payments

Contactless payment functionality comes in many forms, such as digital wallets, QR codes, text to pay, card-on-file, and more. It can be used in nearly any industry, and due to customer demand, will likely continue to grow in popularity.


Grocery stores have taken measures to reduce contact between employees and shoppers, such as the installation of plexiglass barriers at checkout. However, many customers are still reluctant to touch high-traffic surfaces such as a PIN pad. While some card issuers are increasingly issuing contactless credit cards, those require a compatible contactless card reader; otherwise they have to be swiped or dipped just the same as a traditional magstripe or chip card.

Some grocery stores have developed their own mobile payment apps, where a customer can store their payment information in the app and receive a QR code to scan at checkout for a contactless transaction.

While not widely seen in the United States, a payment method called "scan-pay-go" has become popular for grocery stores in the United Kingdom. This method enables shoppers to use their mobile phone to scan UPC codes on grocery items as they shop, allowing them to bypass checkout lanes completely.


Many pharmacies accept digital wallets such as Apple Pay®, Google PayTM, and Samsung Pay®. In addition, some now offer a card-on-file service, where they can store a repeat customer’s payment information so the customer does not have to present their physical credit card at every purchase.


Many retail stores are now offering curbside pickup service, where the customer prepays online, then waits in their car at an appointed pickup time and an employee brings their order out to them. To make the experience even more contactless, many locations have eliminated their previous requirement of obtaining a customer signature.

Restaurants/Fast Food/Bars

Restaurants are also experimenting with new services and payment methods. Many restaurants are now offering contactless delivery. For in-person customers, some restaurants now provide a QR code that diners can scan on their cell phone, then pay directly on their phone with their digital wallet or by entering their card information.


With so many available contactless payment options, the contactless experience is sure to continue to evolve. We all knew contactless digital payments would be the future, but it is truly remarkable to see how quickly they have become the new norm. Independent software vendors must evolve with them, ensuring they continue to offer the latest payment methods within their software solution. To learn how Global Payments Integrated can help, contact us today.


Apple Pay® is a trademark of Apple, Inc. All trademarks contained herein are the sole and exclusive property of their respective owners.

Google PayTM is a trademark of Google, Inc.  All trademarks contained herein are the sole and exclusive property of their respective owners. Any such use of those marks without the express written permission of their owner is prohibited.

Samsung Pay® is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.