Tap-and-go: Contactless card limit increased to contain Covid-19 spread

Apr 06, 2020
The new limit will be progressively rolled out from Monday. Source: Getty.

In an effort to reduce the need for physical contact for shoppers, the limit for contactless card payments requiring a PIN has now increased from $100 to $200. The self-regulatory body for the payments industry, Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet), confirmed that the increase would start rolling out in the industry from April 6.

The popular tap-and-go feature allows consumers to pay for items without inserting their card into the machine or requiring a PIN for anything under a certain amount.

Given the large number of cards, payment terminals and organisations involved, the new $200 limit will be progressively introduced across certain cards and retailers with major supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths expected to be among the first.

Customers will know whether they can use the new temporary limit by tapping their card or phone to the machine and following the PIN pad prompts to know whether or not a PIN is required for the amount being paid. If unsure, customers are urged to ask the retailer for more information.

This comes as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak and will act as a way of promoting better social distancing practises, particularly in busier areas such as retail businesses that remain open. It is expected to apply for a three-month period however the limit will be extended if needed.

AusPayNet CEO Andy White said the increased limit was an important response to the changing environment as consumers are now buying more, less often in an effort to reduce the time spent outside the safety of their homes. However, White reminded customers that the option to spend more without a PIN means that increased safety measures should be taken to protect their money.

“The new $200 contactless limit will mean fewer consumers need to touch the payment terminal,” he said. “Contactless transactions are highly secure. However, consistent with long-standing advice, consumers are encouraged to look after their cards like cash to protect against theft.”

Those worried about the increased limit making them more susceptible to theft should take comfort in knowing that financial institutions will continue to monitor accounts through their predictive fraud systems and immediately alert consumers to any unusual activity. Any lost cards or unauthorised payments on consumer’s accounts should continue to be immediately reported to the bank or institution linked to the card to stay on top of their funds.

Tap-and-go payments can be made with any card that has a Contactless Indicator, which are the four horizontal lines located on the front of the card that resembles a radio-frequency symbol. These payments can also be made using apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and more that are available on smartphones and smartwatches.

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