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Limit on contactless payments increasing to $200 from $80 to encourage consumers not to touch payments terminals. Good for our health, but bad for EFTPOS?

Limit on contactless payments increasing to $200 from $80 to encourage consumers not to touch payments terminals. Good for our health, but bad for EFTPOS?

Banks, Visa and Mastercard are temporarily increasing the limit on contactless card payments to $200 from $80 starting Thursday, for as long as necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Payments NZ, which is owned by eight banks including ANZ New Zealand, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank and Westpac NZ, says the move comes after a successful pilot and will be phased in over the next few weeks  It mirrors a similar move in Australia where the limit was recently increased to A$200 from A$100.

"The increase aims to help reduce the need for customers to touch PIN pads [used with payments terminals] when making in-store purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic," Payments NZ CEO Steve Wiggins says.

"The new temporary limit will be introduced by most New Zealand banks and card providers and will be available at an increasing number of retailers over the coming days and weeks. Given the number of cards, payment terminals and businesses involved from across the country – it’s expected to take a few weeks for the roll out to be completed industry wide."

Wiggins says the new limit will remain in place for as long as necessary.

Customers will merely need to follow the usual prompts on the PIN pad when paying. If the limit has become active on that terminal, it will kick in automatically, Wiggins says. For contactless payments over $200, the terminal will still ask for a PIN number so users will need to follow the prompts.

The major banks are also currently waiving fees on contactless debit card transactions for business customers during the coronavirus crisis, and in some cases merchant service fees too. A welcome saving for businesses, it's also a good public health move because it means consumers don't need to touch payments terminals when making payments.

However fees remain in place for contactless credit card transactions, which have a weighted average merchant service fee of 1.5%, according to Retail NZ.

And, as reported by interest.co.nz on Wednesday, waiving fees on contactless debit card transactions may spell bad news for EFTPOS. Traditional EFTPOS transactions are free for merchants in comparison to weighted average merchant service fees - in normal circumstances - of 1.1% for contactless debit transactions. However, unlike contactless transactions, EFTPOS transactions involve inserting cards into payments terminals and the customer entering their details.

A concern here is with banks giving contactless transactions away for free, many merchants who normally don't offer them to customers because of the cost, may enable their payments terminals for contactless transactions. This could see an increase in the number of consumers getting familiar with the ease and convenience of making contactless payments.

Then when the fees are no longer waived on contactless debit transactions, merchants will have to continue offering them to please their customers, but will take a hit to their bottom line. For retailers card acceptance fees are typically the third highest cost of doing business after wages and rent. Meanwhile the bank card issuers, and their Visa and Mastercard partners, will bolster their revenue through gaining market share at the expense of EFTPOS.

Retail NZ says on top of the major banks encouraging retailers to switch on contactless payments by waiving some merchant fees, increasing the limit on contactless payments gives retailers another reason to start using the technology. 

"Customers increasingly want to pay contactlessly, so over time, Retail NZ expects to see fewer 'No Paywave' stickers in store,” Retail NZ CEO Greg Harford says.

You can see more from Payments NZ here

Below is a statement from ASB.

ASB contactless payments announcement

The New Zealand Payments Industry today announced that contactless payments can now be made up to $200 without the need for a PIN. This is in response to New Zealand being at alert level 4 of the COVID-19 response. The $200 limit may decrease to the current $80 when New Zealand moves to lower levels.

ASB is supportive of the industry initiative however due to technology constraints, ASB Visa Debit and ASB Visa Credit cards currently held by customers will continue to have an $80 limit before a PIN is requested.

”ASB is sorry that our current ASB Visa Credit and Debit cards do not immediately support the contactless payment increase to $200. ASB introduced contactless cards early, and at the time, responded to concerns about their security by ensuring the cards were hard-coded to ask for a PIN for all transactions above $80,”says Simon Tong, ASB executive general manager Digital, Data and Brand.

“Since identifying the need to change card limits, we have been working hard to find a solution for our existing cards but given the complexity this is likely to take several weeks. We appreciate some of our customers may want to take advantage of the $200 contactless limit sooner, so they can request a new card from today which we will happily re-issue at no cost.”

“The limit of up to $80 without a PIN relates to our cards only, and all our customers with Mobile Pay options such as Apple, Google, Garmin and FitBit Pay can use these immediately to make payments up to $200 without a PIN.”

“Customers who set up a new Mobile Payment method on their device will receive a one-off $20 refund on any purchase made at supermarkets around the country, after using their mobile device to pay for the first time,” says Tong.

The easiest and fastest way to apply for a new card is through FastNet Classic or online via www.asb.co.nz/bank-accounts/visa-debit.html

Customers who do not have online access can phone our contact centre. Replacement cards should arrive within about five business days, and existing cards will continue to work until the new card is received.

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25 Comments

Would be sweet to finally be able to pay contactless for that Coke at the dairy.

Yeah fees haven't changed. Ask your dairy to start using Alipay or something similar which costs a merchant closer to 0.1% per transaction vs the 1.5% of visa and mastercard.

Best I can get is 2.3%

Thought all contactless was fee-free for this period?

I was hoping that I could have mine deactivated.
Alas I don't think its possible.
I got shock one day where I was paying for petrol and it had already been charged when I went to type in my pin. I can't believe that people are happy with having zero security like this.
Not sure if there is any block on paying for it twice like this?

Banks cover the loss if card lost or stolen and you report it immediately.

See https://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&obj...

Actually , the retailer does . Another reason small retailers don't want to go contactless.

Source please.

FYI - with ASB you can disable paywave via mobile app, I suspect same for other banks.

Thanks. I'll do some more research.

They are certainly a favourite of low-lifes, and the banks are aware of it.

Decided to wash my car at Washworld in Greenlane a few weeks ago. I didn't have change, and didn't want to break a $50 into coins, so had to use the change machine which does paywave, as well as regular eftpos. Sign on the machine, limited to 2 transactions per card per day, max $40 i think it was. Used the machine, and within 4 minutes my phone rang, and it was the bank checking that my card hadn't been stolen.

Just another step in the sleezy bank campaign to get rid of eftpos and take money out of our pockets into theirs. Manipulation supreme.
The better solution would be to enable paywave on eftpos.

Tapping at the supermarket for $200 over Corvid19 gets you just the same amount of goods the $80 used to!

Its nuts to be able to initiate a 200 buck transaction that easily. I predict big problems ahead with card theft!

Just like everyone predicted when paywave first came out.....

Lol...and those early terminals could read your card from a couple of meters away! I remember the first time I encountered pay wave...because I had to pay a lady at the gas station after HER card paid for MY lawnmower petrol. A fiasco!

You had a poor experience with a technology when it was new, so are still vocally anti it several years later?

Whats your point?

Re: theft and muggings & pickpockets. The incentive to illegally obtain someones card has just increased by 300%. Given the high levels of poverty in NZ I have no doubt this will lead to more crime, particularly in poorer parts of Auckland.

Great, will be able to buy a new car or boat on contactless soon then.

Gareth, a sidebar in the swipe capability on the terminals, is that some large retailers depend on a member-card-swipe to add member data into the terminal comms stream, in order to direct the retail transaction through to the member's account. If there's a change to terminals (a chip slot and a keypad only, just like the little dongles it's possible to add to a smartphone to add payment functionality), then surely this is a major upheaval for such schemes?

Nearly all the convenience is not having to enter a PIN. I don't really care if I have to insert a card, can EFTPOS enable PINless transactions? How much of the contactless payment fee is insurance?

Next a computer transfer in five seconds to any bank. And computer doesn't have a weekend or holiday.

love paywave with my phone as you need my fingerprint to activate the phone and the payment so way more secure than my card

if you are a merchant contact your bank most have waved fees for the paywave service for 3 to 6 months for this service but I think you need to apply for the fee waiver

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See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.