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The surprising benefits of offering contactless payments in your restaurant

Published May 02, 2022

If you really take a step back, the concept of a credit card is fascinating: a seemingly inordinate plastic card that pays for things. 

For years, cash has been the predominant method of payment at restaurants. Now, credit cards are the main method of payment. But as technology continues to shepherd us into the future, we’re continuing to see the rise of yet another payment method: contactless payments.

Contactless credit card and mobile payments have increased by 150% in the U.S. - that’s 31 million Americans using touchless options. And that's a global phenomenon  according to a Mastercard study, which found that 79 percent of consumers worldwide are using contactless payments.  The writing on the wall is clear: contactless payments are the next big thing for restaurants. So what does this mean for your establishment? More specifically, how can your restaurant benefit from offering contactless pickup and payment capabilities? Keep reading to find out

What is a contactless payment?

By definition, a contactless payment is one that can be processed without any physical contact between a method of payment (e.g. a credit card) and a restaurant’s POS system.

These options use mobile technology to transmit financial information over short distances. You’ve likely seen people tap their credit cards to POS systems or wave their phones above scanners to utilize mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. These are examples of contactless payments.

Many restaurants offering to-go meals are updating their POS systems and credit card readers to be able to process these types of payments hands-free, often using mobile devices for in-house dining and curbside pickup. So, what’s in it for the restaurant?

Contactless payments improve transaction security

Most credit cards are now equipped with EMV chip readers because they’re more secure than the traditional magnetic stripe cards. This EMV chip technology has evolved to incorporate contactless functionality, often referred to as “tap and go.” EMV contactless has combined the security of a chip with the ease of NFC (near-field communications) technology. It’s the NFC technology that allows your card to communicate with an NFC-equipped terminal at close range — and is the same technology employed by Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.

How is EMV contactless more secure? The chip on a contactless card communicates with a restaurant’s POS system. Upon tapping, it creates a unique cryptographic code for that specific transaction. These unique codes provide better security for contactless transactions. 

Contactless payments and pickup are faster

What’s running through your mind after you’ve inserted your credit card chip and you’re waiting for it to process? That 5-10 second time window can feel like an eternity for a customer, especially given the on-demand, on-the-go mindset of today’s consumers.  

Contactless payments and contactless pickup eliminate this wait time. Payments are processed instantaneously upon tapping due to the NFC technology. Not only will your customers be happy with your delicious food, but your restaurant efficiency will improve as well.

With less processing time, your staff will be able to serve more customers, decreasing wait times and increasing sales. And for those customers seeking pickup takeout via online ordering, the process can be lightning fast. This benefit is particularly useful for quick service and curbside delivery restaurants with high volumes and direct customer payments. 

Contactless payments: everybody is using them

Restaurants are constantly thinking about how to attract more customers. Offering contactless payments is one great tactic.

Younger demographics rely less on cash than their predecessors. They also rely much more heavily on smart phones for things like banking, purchasing and ordering food. As Gen Z’s purchasing power continues to grow, it’s important that restaurants and local businesses cater to their habits — including mobile ordering and transactions.

Younger customers value contactless payment options because their phones are their most readily available accessory. They also like the freedom of not having to carry a wallet. By offering contactless payment options like curbside takeout with your POS system, your restaurant will be more appealing to a budding demographic: young consumers. 

If you’re able to offer delicious to-go meals, maintain efficient curbside operations and create easy, seamless interactions for your customers, you’ll be able to build stronger loyalty and longer-lasting relationships with your customers.

Contactless payments comply with health concerns

With contactless payments, you can finally remove that giant jug of hand sanitizer sitting next to your credit-card reader! 

After the past year and a half of living with the effects of a global pandemic, customers and restaurants alike are hypervigilant about high-touch areas that could act as super-spreader zones, one of which could be the credit-card reader on a restaurant POS system. Combining contactless ordering, payments and pickup eliminates physical contact between customers and your restaurant’s POS equipment.

Taking these extra precautions will help your customers feel more comfortable because they reduce opportunities for germs to spread. Demonstrating a commitment to customer and community safety is more important than ever for local restaurants, and offering more contactless experiences can help your restaurant be a leader in safety protocols.

Related: How restaurants can reduce indoor exposure risks with contactless experiences

Tipping is still available with contactless payments

Have no fear — contactless payments and contactless pickup do not eliminate the option for customers to provide a tip. Your restaurant manager can program your POS system to generate the tip screen before or after payment, just as you would for a physical credit-card swipe or chip insert. Some might think that because contactless payments promote a “tap and go” mentality, the tipping step will be overlooked. That isn’t the case.

In fact, because contactless payments are so effortless for customers, studies show that many end up making more frequent and higher purchases as a result. That sounds like a win-win for your restaurant!

All in all, contactless payments are the way forward for most customer purchases. By embracing this next step in payments, restaurants can offer their customers increased processing speeds and transaction security. They can also attract new demographics and promote healthy practices — all while generating efficient revenue. Utilizing contactless payments will jettison your restaurant into the next wave of payment processing and consumer demand.

When your restaurant is backed by NCR VOYIX, it's simple to stay out front.

Whether that's literally up front with your customers, or out front of your competition.

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