APAC leads worldwide in contactless payments, but the rest of the world was not far behind in Feb and Mar 2020.

During February and March this year, global social distancing measures had caused a significant majority of consumers to turn to contactless card payments for necessary purchases.

Citing safety and cleanliness, 79% of people worldwide and 91% in Asia Pacific said they are now using tap-and-go payments. Consumer polling by Mastercard, studying the changing consumer behavior patterns in 19 countries around the world, paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless adoption.

The act of going to the store for eggs, toilet paper, medicine and other necessities has changed dramatically so far this year. Shoppers have had to adjust to new challenges when buying everyday supplies—a shift in behavior that is particularly clear at checkout as people express a desire for contactless cards and express concerns over cleanliness and safety at the point of sale.

Other survey statistics show:

  • Contactless cards move to top of wallet – Perceptions of safety and convenience have spurred a preference for contactless cards and reminded consumers of the ease of tapping. Globally, 46% of respondents had swapped their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless. In Asia Pacific, 51% of people had made the swap.
  • Confidence in contactless – COVID-19 has increased concerns about cash usage and led to positive perceptions about contactless payments due to the safety and peace of mind it may provide. The majority of respondents (82 percent) globally viewed contactless as the cleaner way to pay, with 80% in Asia Pacific saying the same. Contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, enabling customers to get in and out of stores faster.  
  • Contactless is here to stay – We are in a sustained period where consumers are making purchases in a very focused way. That is reinforcing contactless use in markets where adoption is more mature and it’s stimulating use in newer markets. This trend appears to be here to stay as 74% of people globally and 75% in Asia Pacific stated they will continue to use contactless after the pandemic is over.

Said Sandeep Malhotra, Executive Vice President, Products & Innovation, Asia Pacific, Mastercard:  “Mastercard’s survey shows a clear shift to contactless—especially in Asia Pacific—as COVID-19 changes the payments landscape and the way people shop now and in the future. The fact that 3 in 4 people intend to keep using tap-and-go after the pandemic is a strong sign that consumers see the long-term benefits of having a safer, cleaner way to pay, checking out faster and being more socially responsible.”

Mastercard data reveals more than 40% growth in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter of 2020. More than 80% of contactless transactions are under US$25, a range typically dominated by cash.

Just last month, Mastercard announced commitments to increase contactless payment limits in more than 50 countries worldwide in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Limit increases were part of Mastercard’s global effort to make sure consumers, merchants and small businesses have the resources to pay safely, receive payment and maintain operations during the COVID-19 crisis.