Technology/Services

Study Shows Contactless Payments on the Rise

Tap-to-pay and EMV gain in usage
convenience store checkout
Photograph: Shutterstock

MALVERN, Pa. — A recent study shows contactless transactions have steadily risen since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cantaloupe, a digital payments and software services company, partnered with the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University for a joint study on payment trends. The results of the study, which analyzed a sample set of 160,000 Cantaloupe ePort cashless devices across various location segments, show that contactless transactions at convenience stores and other retail centers such as vending machines soared during the height of the COVID pandemic from January 2020 to October 2021, the time of the study.

The Payments in Unattended Retail study saw the overall share of cashless transactions increase dramatically from 51% in January 2020 to 62% in October 2021 compared to cash transactions, which decreased from 49% to 38% in the same time period. The rise in cashless payments overall is being driven by consumer adoption of contactless payments, or any payment method that uses either near-field communication (NFC) or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to “tap to pay,” such as a credit or debit card with a chip, or a mobile wallet.

The study found that from January 2020 to October 2021, contactless transactions had grown steadily month to month from 18% of total transactions to 43% of total cashless transactions overall.

“When we analyze our entire network of devices throughout the first half of 2022, we’re seeing contactless payment methods make up nearly half of all cashless transactions,” said Sean Feeney, CEO of Cantaloupe. “And these trends aren’t slowing down. The data indicates that by the end of 2022, more than two-thirds of all transactions will be cashless, driven by consumers preferring to tap. For vending operators, this underlines the importance of offering contactless payment options if they want to increase revenue and remain competitive.”

Cantaloupe’s purchase data from January to November 2021 also showed an increase of EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) digital payments growing from 1 million transactions to 3 million. Cantaloupe predicts the number of EMV transactions to grow by an additional 2 million in 2022, reflecting the impact of EMV security changes by payment processors and card brand issuers.

This research reflects observed consumer payment trends toward cashless payments when customers pay in person, driven by increased adoption of contactless payment methods such as chip cards or mobile wallets. Based on the data, the study predicts that contactless payments will grow another 31% during 2022.

Cantaloupe, based in Malvern, Pa., is a software and payments company for the unattended retail market.

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