As the situation with COVID-19 evolved, businesses across the country and globe looked for ways to help streamline everyday life as we adapted to our “new normal.” Partners is no exception, and, in an effort to bring Members some peace of mind, recently introduced contactless debit cards. We sat down with Jeff Trowbridge, Vice President of Card Portfolio Services, to learn more about contactless debit cards and find out what you need to know.
Partners introduced contactless credit cards in late 2015, and had already made the decision to go contactless on debit cards, as well, in 2020. “Contactless has been big outside the U.S. for some time, and really started to accelerate in the U.S. market over the last couple of years,” Jeff says. “2020 was expected to be a really big growth year for contactless as more retailers and merchants started to enable their point-of-sale systems to allow for contactless payments. The pandemic has been a big driver in the usage of contactless cards as consumers looked for ways to make their check out experience as safe as possible.”
Jeff says that using the contactless feature in the debit cards will provide the same encryption and security that you get with an EMV chip-enabled transaction when inserted into a point-of-sale terminal. “When you’re using a contactless card, the chip communicates with the terminal in the same way,” Jeff explains. “Each transaction is accompanied by a one-time code that secures the cardholder’s payment information.
In order to use the contactless feature, a merchant’s point-of-sale terminal needs to be enabled for contactless transactions and support near-field communication or NFC. “Not all merchants have it enabled, but we have seen a big increase in the number of merchants that are now accepting contactless card transactions.
To make a contactless card transaction, Members just tap their card to the terminal, however, according to Jeff, the card does not have to actually touch the payment terminal. “You only have to be within an inch or two of the terminal for the contactless transaction to occur,” he points out. “All terminals are a little different, but, generally, they’ll display the contactless wave symbol, which lets you know that you can pay with a contactless card. If the terminal does not accept contactless payments, you will still be able to use your card by either inserting or swiping the card in the terminal.”
Members can expect to receive their new contactless debit card when their existing card expires. “Our current plans are to issue the contactless debit cards during the reissue process of cards that are expiring” Jeff explains. Additionally, Members who open a new checking account with a debit card tied to it, will receive the new contactless card.”
As Jeff pointed out earlier, contactless cards have really taken off and with their speed, security, and ease of use, are becoming an expectation for consumers in the U.S. “Jeff adds. “When EMV chip cards were introduced, it took a little while for people to remember to insert their card into the terminal versus swiping , but I think the move to contactless will be a relatively easy transition.”
Video by Daniel N. from Partners