TL;DR Health and personal wellbeing worries have changed the mindset of the travelling public. Tap and pay technology helps alleviate concerns amongst passengers who regard using public transport as a health risk. VISA has responded with the roll out of contactless payments on public transportation across 500 cities.
The recent announcement from VISA that it has rolled out contactless payments for public transportation across 500 cities worldwide is a sensible response to a behavioural change driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst Europe was quicker to grasp the time saving advantages and convenience of using contactless, the United States in particular was slower to appreciate the benefits, citing security breaches and lack of infrastructure to accept these types of payments. Mastercard North America said last year, pre COVID, that the US is the most complex market in the world, with 50 years of legacy systems. With thousands of banks and millions of merchants, it is not surprising that the take up in contactless fell well behind many other countries.
The Great Disrupter –
Taking Public Transport is Seen as a Health Risk
However, in the midst of the world-wide pandemic, health and safety issues have changed the mindset of the travelling public. VISA say that their statistics show that 50% of the public want better safety measures in place to assuage the thought that taking public transport poses a high health risk.
As with retail, the way forward in the mind’s eye of the paying traveller is to be provided with a customer journey that completes a payment transaction as safely and quickly as possible with the least amount of physical contact with hardware or personnel – and it is here that contactless wins, hands down.
Technology Provides Peace of Mind
Retail has an advantage in that it is able to offer mPOS solutions that can move the payment transaction away from the traditional, and static, point of sale, to effectively anywhere where the public wishes to pay – removing that other social distancing nemesis, the queue. Solutions that pair a hand-held device, be it computer, smartphone or tablet with a payment device provide real upstream solutions that help create that environment of speed, efficiency, and customer well-being.
Public transport, by enlarge does not have the luxury of space, but the introduction of tap and pay on public transport is likely now to be looked upon favourably in the United States, as it is already, across many countries in Europe. It may not be mPOS, per se but it does put the transaction in the hands of the customer.
It Takes a Crisis
History has shown that a global crisis drives change, at speed. COVID-19 has effectively killed off cash as a currency for many applications. Customers and staff see those health risks and the industry has reacted to this change in social behaviour by increasing the contactless limit, whilst the retail and public transportation sectors are themselves promoting the use of contactless as the preferred method of payment.
Technology is providing the lead to reflect the changed expectations of the public. Both the retail and transportation industries are having to come to terms with a situation that no one could have possibly imagined, just six months ago. Contactless payments are helping answer that challenge by providing a solution that will encourage passengers back to mass transit systems and shoppers back into the stores. As Visa say, “contactless payments have gone from nice-to-have for speed and convenience, to a must-have for safety reasons.”