With a view towards making transactions safer and contact-free amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given its nod to tap-and-go card payments in the country. The development will allow payment networks – Visa, MasterCard and NPCI – to allow tap-and-go functionality on card payments for all purchases at retail stores and shopping centers, even those over the limit of Rs. 2,000.

The new functionality will ensure that customers will be able to pay for any and all purchases by simply tapping their cards, but purchases above Rs. 2,000 will require two-factor authentication, meaning customers must enter a PIN to process the transaction. Tap-and-go transactions are enabled by Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and don’t require physical contact with a payment terminal. However, customers will still be able to transact through traditional means by swiping their cards if the option is available.

The contactless payment feature, however, will only come into force once the banks and payment service providers have upgraded the technology at their end, which means people should not expect things to change with immediate effect. According to an official quoted by the report, the requisite infrastructure upgrades to support the new technology are not too complicated, and if all goes according to plan, most of the country will be ready for it in about three months’ time.

Contactless payments have been on the rise around the world, but India has been slow to the party. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, has now convinced the regulator to hasten the switch to touch-free payment methods. According to CNBC, data cited by MasterCard suggests that US consumers already use contactless payment for 85 percent of their grocery needs, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the technology to become the norm in India.