South Africans are leaning towards contactless payments fearing that cash carries COVID-19

Business Insider SA
  • With the coronavirus still looming in South Africa, social distancing will be the norm for the foreseeable future.
  • Contactless payment methods in comparison to cash are considered a safer and cleaner way to pay.
  • In a recent poll of 19 countries around the world, 75% of South African respondents said they are using contactless payment methods amid the global pandemic.
  • Tap-and-go payments and online shopping are a few ways to stay safe while transacting, according to Absa

There is a lot of dirty money in the world – but you’ll be surprised to know just how dirty. From bacteria-like staphylococcus aureus and klebsiella pneumoniaeto traces of cocaine, the craziest things have been found to crawl around on cash.

One study found that physical currency changes hands at least once a week, or 55 times a year, making it very easy for money to pick up hitchhiking microbes. Unfortunately, in a world crippled by COVID-19, money’s dirty habits can just as easily spread a virus from one person to another through a simple transaction.

Amid the global pandemic, South Africans have begun to reconsider the cash they handle every day and an increased concern about safety has encouraged contactless payments. Since social distancing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, contactless payment methods like tap-and-go have gained traction across the world.

A recent study by MasterCard looked at changing consumer behaviours in 19 countries around the world and found an accelerated adoption of contactless payments since the outbreak of COVID-19. In South Africa, 75% of the respondents said that they now use contactless payment methods and 88% said that they view it as a safer and cleaner way to pay. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, methods like tap-and-go or mobile payments were largely driven by convenience. Now, safety and hygiene are leading the way as the key motivators for cashless transactions. Here are three ways to stay safe and shop contactless: 

1. Tap to pay

If your card has the contactless icon on it, it can be used to simply tap the point-of-sale device at the store. These cards are a faster alternative to chip-and-PIN payments and require less physical interaction. According to Absa, the benefits of tap-and-go payments are that your card stays clean from not being passed to anyone else, your card doesn’t have to touch the point-of-sale device, and you don’t have to touch the point-of-sale device to enter your PIN if the transaction is for a low-value payment (usually below R200).

2. Shop online

Shopping online allows you to access what you need without leaving your home. Try to only go to the shops for essential goods and do the rest online to limit your risk of infection. Your credit card allows you the ability to shop online and many banks have set up 3D Secure services for their customers. Absa explains that 3D Secure allows a merchant to communicate your request to purchase something with your bank. Your bank then sends you back a one-time PIN (called an OTP) which you enter to verify that you are making the purchase, and not a fraudster.

3. Beware of fraudsters

Banks have noted an increase in fraudulent activities during lockdown with fraudsters sending messages to consumers that look like they are from a bank. Cybercriminals are prying on the high demand for COVID-19-related information and can use it as a phishing lure to deliver malware. Pay attention to the messages your bank sends you about staying safe and do not share your PIN or OTP with anyone. Only visit sites that you know and make sure to never share sensitive information.

This post was sponsored by Absa and produced by BrandStudio24.

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