During February and March, as many countries imposed necessary restrictions on social distancing, a significant majority of consumers turned to contactless card payments for necessary purchases. 79 percent of respondents worldwide say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers. Consumer polling by Mastercard, studying changing consumer behaviors in 19 countries around the world, paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless adoption.
The act of running to the store for eggs, toilet paper, medicine and other necessities has changed dramatically. Shoppers around the world have had to adjust to social distancing measures and other new challenges when buying everyday supplies for their families and loved ones. This shift in consumer behavior is particularly clear at checkout, as people express a desire for contactless and voice concerns over cleanliness and safety at the point of sale, according to the new Mastercard study. In fact, findings show:
- Contactless Move to Top of Wallet – Perceptions of safety and convenience have spurred a preference for contactless cards and reminded consumers of the convenience of tapping on a global scale. Globally, nearly half of respondents (46 percent) have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless – this proportion climbs to 52 percent among those under 35 years old.
- Confidence in Contactless– The global disruption has led to increased concern from consumers on cash usage and positive perceptions towards contactless due to the peace of mind that it provides. The majority of respondents (82 percent) view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, enabling customers to get in and out of stores faster.
- Contactless is Here to Stay –We are in a sustained period in which consumers are making purchases in a very focused way; it’s reinforcing contactless use in markets where adoption is more mature, and it’s stimulating use in newer markets. This trend appears to be here to stay as approximately three quarters (74 percent) state they will continue to use contactless post-pandemic.
“Social distancing does not just concern people’s interactions with each other; it includes contact with publicly shared devices like point of sale terminals and checkout counters,” said Blake Rosenthal, Executive Vice President and Head of Mastercard Acceptance Solutions. “Contactless offer consumers a safer, cleaner way to pay, speed at checkout, and more control over physical proximity at this critical time.”
Contactless Tipping Point
Mastercard has been spearheading the worldwide shift to contactless for years, championing the simple, safe and fast way to pay. As consumers increasingly seek out ways to quickly get in and out of stores without touching terminals, Mastercard data reveals over 40 percent growth in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter of 20201. Further, 80 percent of contactless transactions are under $25, a range that is typically dominated by cash.
While countries worldwide are at different stages of contactless deployment and usage for daily shopping habits, Mastercard’s insights on grocery and pharmacy trends – two areas where many day-to-day essentials are being purchased – showed that nearly all regions experienced significant spikes in contactless usage in February and March. Further, reinforcing changing behaviors and consumer checkout preferences, Mastercard saw the number of contactless transactions grow twice as fast as the number of non-contactless transactions globally at grocery stores and pharmacies 2.
Just last month, Mastercard announced commitments to increase contactless payment limits in more than 50 countries worldwide across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada, among others. Limit increases were part of Mastercard’s global effort to make sure consumers, merchants and small businesses have the resources to safely pay, receive payment, and maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Notes to Editors:
1 Growth calculated as the percentage increase in contactless transactions compared to the percentage increase in non-contactless transactions, comparing March 2020 to March 2019, at Grocery and Pharmacy categories. Source: Mastercard Data Warehouse
2 Growth calculated as the percentage increase in contactless transactions compared to the percentage increase in non-contactless transactions, comparing March 2020 to February 2020, at Grocery and Pharmacy categories. Source: Mastercard Data Warehouse
- Online interviews of 17,000 consumers in 19 countries worldwide
- 1,000 banked respondents per country in the US and Canada (North America); Australia, Singapore (Asia Pacific); UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa (Middle East and Africa); UK, Italy, France, German, Spain, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands (Europe).
- 500 banked respondents per country in Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Colombia (Latin America and the Caribbean)
- Research conducted April 10-12, 2020
- Nationally representative sample
Readable sample sizes of:
– Gen Z/Millennials
– Affluent [defined at a country level]
– Contactless users
– Primary shoppers
– Those with high levels of concern about COVID-19