Contactless cards and contactless in-store payments are coming, right? I’m not the only one raising this question in the payments industry circles where I spend my time. It seems like everyone says it is coming; still I’m waiting. It’s like when my favorite team is ahead by a touchdown with two minutes remaining, but I keep nervously watching the clock and reserving the sweet feeling of victory until I see the count down to zero.
I keep hearing that plans that are in the works at several major bank card issuers to begin rolling out dual-interface EMV chip cards with contactless capabilities – but where are the cards? There has been an uptick in advertisements on television from Visa and Mastercard featuring the fast, easy consumer check-out experience at a variety of merchants – from coffee shops to flea markets to sporting events – but there have been no major banks making announcements yet about when those cards are coming.
My personal and professional experience with anticipating when the next big industry-shifting payments change will happen has often been met with disappointment in the pace that the change actually occurs in a meaningful way. I only have to think back to the end of 2014, when the EMV fraud liability shift date was less than one year away and the number of EMV cards in market were estimated at only 120 million cards issued, not meeting the much higher industry expectations. But by the end of 2015 and just after the fraud liability date passed in October, that number climbed to more than 600 million, a 500% increase.
An important factor to consider about contactless card issuance is that many of the 120 million EMV cards issued by 2014 had four year expiration dates, which means those cards are due to be replaced this year. 100 million or so dual dual-interface cards issued in 2018 won’t create that much of a noticeable impact on consumers, but you can expect that next year, when that number could potentially reach 600 million cards, the real impact will be felt.
So I will be nervously watching the calendar and counting down the months, which is the speed of time in payments, until the time that people will be tapping more than inserting their cards at their favorite coffee shop, flea market, or sporting event.