Living with credit, New products, Shopping

Faster payments: Everyone’s trying to speed checkout

Kelly Dilworth

If you’re still complaining about how long it takes you to jam your card into a payment terminal and wait for it to beep, your laments about slow credit card payments have been heard.

Consumers’ frustrations with payments that take longer to process have financial companies and retailers rolling out faster ways to pay.

Consider:

Discover, American Express, Mastercard and now Visa will ditch the signature requirement on credit card slips in April 2018. One of the reasons for the switch: increased speed at checkout.

“Our consumer research found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn’t need to sign when making a purchase,” Mastercard’s Linda Kirkpatrick wrote in an October blog post.

Contactless cards are starting to flow to U.S. mailboxes and wallets. Cards with the wave symbol speed up small purchases – no dipping, swiping or waiting.

American Express estimates consumers using contactless cards spend less than half the time at checkout compared to those paying with a regular credit card.

Visa is testing an on-card biometric sensor for contactless payments with customers of a Utah credit union. Instead of a PIN or signature, payment will be authorized with the cardholder’s fingerprint.

Why biometrics? A 2017 Visa survey found 70 percent of respondents said they find biometrics easier than passwords and 61 percent consider biometrics to be faster.

Quick Chip and M/Chip Fast speed checkout. Quick Chip-enabled payment terminals, rolled out in early 2016, cut the time lost dipping Visa and American Express cards. Mastercard’s M/Chip Fast also saves cardholders precious seconds after dipping their card.

Brookstone adopted Visa’s Quick Chip in all of its stores ahead of the 2016 holiday season.

Target has launched a new speedier Wallet in its Target app that it says is “up to four times faster than other payment times” when you use it at checkout. Target even bragged in its news release, “We timed it!”

Consumer demand spurs a race for faster payments

Consumers have been griping about the extra seconds it takes to process chip card payments since more secure EMV chip card payments became the norm in 2015.

I feel weird standing there forever waiting for the transaction to authorize,” one shopper told CreditCards.com’s Sienna Kossman in a 2016 interview.

I’ve found it frustrating, too, particularly when I’m waiting in a long line and am eager to get out the door. Before switching to the chip, I’d gotten used to swiping my card and being handed a receipt relatively quickly.

A 2016 survey by the payment company Square found that 87 percent of consumers said they were annoyed by how much longer it takes to process a chip than a magnetic stripe.

“Consumers were most frustrated with slow lines and checkout,” wrote Square in a white paper about its findings. “Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said this was a top pain point when shopping in stores.”

Mobile payments pushing speed, too

Paying with a mobile phone app or your watch or fitness wristband is another way to avoid the longer lines caused by dipping a chip card.

Smartwatches by Apple, Fitbit and Garmin, for example, allow you to pay just by holding your watch above a contactless card reader.

So far, mobile payments haven’t caught on with nearly as wide an audience as payment experts had hoped.

But as retailers and mobile payment companies advertise increasingly faster ways to pay, they may soon be able to attract a wider audience of cardholders eager to breeze through checkout as quickly as they can.

See related: Chip cards lead to jokes, angst on the web, Contactless cards: How they work, Visa ‘Quick Chip’ added to reduce chip cards’ dip delay

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