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As Mastercard pushes boundary of contactless technology in Africa, is Nigeria ready?

As Mastercard pushes boundary of contactless technology in Africa, is Nigeria ready?

Mastercard has said it is applying the latest quantum- resistant technologies to develop the next generation of contactless payments.

Contactless payment refers to a secure method for consumers to purchase products or services using a debit, credit, smartcard, or another payment device by using radio frequency identification technology ( RFID) – also known as chip cards – and near-field communication (NFC).

There has been a steep rise in the adoption of contactless payments all around the world. According to a report, around 58 percent of the people in the United States are now more likely to use contactless payment methods than they were before the pandemic. Mastercard said it has seen a surge of 40 percent in contactless payments in the first quarter of 2020. In a report, the company said that 89 percent of South African consumers say they have using contactless methods to pay for groceries, 60 percent for pharmaceutical items, 39 percent for other retail items, 15 percent for fast food, and eight percent for transport.

In a statement sent to Businessday, Mastercard explains that the demand for faster, more convenient, safe, and now cleaner ways to pay has driven the transition to contactless and this will only continue to grow. In fact, in the third quarter of 2020, contactless penetration represented 41 percent of in-person purchase transactions globally, up 30 percent from a year ago.

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Merchants that accept contactless payment have point-of-sale terminals with a special symbol identifying the technology, which is similar to the Wifi logo but turned onto its side. A consumer will need to own a smartphone to be able to make contactless payments.

Mastercard’s Enhance Contactless ( Ecos) will even require gadgets with improved features. The Ecos specifications are an industry-first and will help ensure that as the dynamic payment landscape evolves, and new technologies like quantum computing are introduced. Contactless technology is future-proofed to ensure consumers will continue to enjoy the same high levels of security and convenience they do today, in the decades to come.

The population of smartphone owners in Nigeria is only 33 percent of the total mobile devices population in the country. Also, the country’s quality of internet connection and speed is very low also means contactless payments adoption may take a longer time to see growth. An internet user in Nigeria accesses the internet on a mobile device at an average speed of 15.3- megabits per second ( Mbps) which is two times below the worldwide average at 34.7Mbps, data from Hootsuite shows.

POS transaction failures are still prevalent in the country and discourage many merchants from fully embracing the technology.

But Mastercard sees contactless payments as the future of payment.

“Contactless is the present and future of in-person payments,” Ajay Bhalla, President Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard, said. “2020 brought with it a rapid acceleration of digitalisation and reinforced the importance of digital solutions – like contactless – to help meet our everyday needs. As the ecosystem continues to evolve, more connected devices and the Internet of Things are going to create more user demand and an even greater need for constant innovation to build next- generation capability, helping to ensure that technology never outpaces trust.”