Saturday, May 19, 2012

Contactless Payments Good For Mastercard But Bad For Consumers

Universal contactless smart card reader symbolUniversal contactless smart card reader symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know that when using credit cards to make purchases we tend to spend 18% more than if we used cash. The convenience of a credit credit and its psychological detachment from real money makes us spend more. Don't think it can get worse than that? With the current introduction of contactless payment methods we now are going to spend 30 percent more, according to a new study released by Mastercard.

Contactless payments come about when credit cards or smart phones that feature smart chips implanted with radio frequency identification, generally referred to as RFID. Consumers merely "wave" the card or smart phone across a payment terminal instead of having to "swipe" the card through the terminal.

Contactless payment methods are becoming a lot more common. Visa has lately ushered in PayWave; MasterCard has PayPass and American Express has
Express Pay. The MasterCard study anticipates 150 million mobile devices will be contactless enabled within the next a couple of years.

The MasterCard study took some of their customers and divided the accounts into low, medium and high spend segments according to their monthly spending prior to ushering in the contactless payment methods. The 30% increase in spending was consistent across all three segments.

The study also found that after the first contactless transaction, users spend an average of 25 percent more online, 64 percent more abroad and 20 percent
more in recurring payments.

"While this increased spending may be good news for banks and retailers, contactless payments can be dangerous to the household budget," says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of "You can now make a purchase with just a wave of your phone without a thought about how much the purchase really costs. It could make it too easy for some people to buy something spontaneously or throw a few more items into the shopping cart. Making good spending decisions takes analysis and discipline. We probably need to feel the pain of money leaving our bank account to help us evaluate if we can afford it and if we really need it."

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