What is Tap to Pay & How Does it Work

In today’s world, people are increasingly making contactless transactions supported by advancements in technology. The one-click shopping experience has already gained popularity which permits the buying of products online.
Mykhailo Glodian
Mykhailo Glodian
Head of Growth @ MeaPay
What is Tap to Pay & How Does it Work

In today’s world, people are increasingly making contactless transactions supported by advancements in technology. The one-click shopping experience has already gained popularity which permits the buying of products online.
Proposing a vast range of payment methods has allowed customers many possible systems to make a transaction for a purchase. Cash and credit shopping has evolved from a shopping experience to a digital one. Digital wallets mainly include Google Pay, credit pay have eased the way you shop and pay.
Banks offer credit and debit cards in a broad range of colors to differentiate their features. Each new card is an updated form of the previous card.
Contactless payments are advanced and easy methods to pay for the merchandise you want. Tap to Pay/Contactless payments are widely accepted and used in payment terminals all over.
You may perhaps think of what tap to pay is, how to use tap to pay, and how it works. This article will provide you with a complete insight to understand Tap to Pay.

What is Tap to Pay?

Tap to Pay is a safe and reliable way for customers to pay for merchandise. Tap to Pay cards is designed using advanced technologies that include Near Field Communication (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
Credit cards with the Tap to Pay feature make use of Europay, MasterCard® (EMV) technology which is supported with NFC to initiate and promote to do proximity payments. Tap to Pay payments is referred to as NFC payments because it passes your funds from your bank account to the retailers.
Financial institutions and retailers also consider contactless payment methods easy. Short-range wireless technology allows an individual to tap and pay near a POS device. The terminal sends your payment for authorization when you tap on the device.
The number of retailers accepting contactless payments in developed countries particularly the U.S., UK, and Canada. Customer representatives in banks who issue contactless payment cards claim that a customer is liable to make only one transaction at a time.

Regular cards vs. Tap to Pay cards

The Tap to Pay symbol appears identical to a Wi-Fi sign on the front side of your debit and credit cards. The Tap to Pay symbol has 4 converging lines that decrease in size from right to left.
The Tap to Pay symbol on your credit or debit card represents RFID technology as an indicator to let you know that you can make contactless payments.
In contrast to regular credit and debit cards, Tap to Pay cards tends to function 10x faster. Tap to Pay has turned out to be one of the most preferable technology to pay rather than making cash payments, inserting, and swiping cards.
You may doubt if your banking card has Tap to Pay feature or not. Your card may be already renewed to include this feature. See on the front side of your banking card for the Tap to Pay symbol to check that you have the right to make contactless payments.
With contactless payment cards, just tap on the POS terminal and pay for your purchase easily. Tap to Pay eliminates the necessity of swiping a card on the POS device to pay for the purchases you make.
If you do not find any RFID symbol, you have a regular credit or debit card without RFID technology and NFC. Make a call to the bank representative who issued your card and request to issue you a new card with a contactless payment feature.
Though Tap to Pay cards and regular banking cards contain the same data which mainly include the banking card number, a magnetic stripe, security PIN, and card expiry date.
Although tap to pay cards is an easy way for a transaction, both normal and contactless payment cards share a common safety concern i.e., protection of card PIN.
According to Wisniewski, digital banking cards containing chips tend to be more safe and secure. Whereas magnetic stripe cards still pose a security threat.
Magnetic strips on the normal banking cards are coded with static data. If someone steals the magnetic strip of your card, he/she may get a new card.
Nevertheless, it is not possible for a criminal to have a duplicate banking card with a contactless payment element. Due to this reason, the usage of contactless cards is turning out to be more frequent than the usage of regular magnetic strip banking cards.
The Tap to Pay symbol

How does Tap to Pay work?

A significant increase in the recognition of contactless payments has got individuals curious to understand how Tap to Pay works.
The most likely feature of Tap to Pay cards is that it eliminates the necessity of handing over your banking card to the seller to swipe it through the electronic data reader.
Sellers who allow Tap to Pay payment have POS devices encoded with the data regarding a specific symbol that identifies the RFID gadgets.
It develops contact between the card and the card reader while an individual holds a card close to the reader to pay. Tap to Pay cards has an EMV microprocessor as an extra element.
While you plan to tap to pay, your card data is safely authenticated and the data from the POS system is transferred for the transaction. But your transactions are analyzed by the bank before they approve them.
When the payment system or device accepts the tap, it produces signals as a sign of confirmation in the form of a checkmark, green light, or beep. The transaction completes after approval.
This process may seem complex to you, but it is not. The Tap to Pay method is fast and easy and allows you to make payments in seconds. It is faster than using cash, inserting, and swiping the card.
Tap to Pay cards offers one or more ways to make payments. In case, if a retailer does not offer contactless payment, you can swipe your card.
With the increased adoption of wireless technologies and products, people connect their credit and debit cards with their smartphones and other smart devices. It is easy to make payments using a contactless system.
Every individual can download a payment application like Apple Pay. It allows you to make purchases with secured data of your credit and debit card. It only requires a single tap on your phone or other smart devices having the payment application installed in it.
The transaction size on the Tap to Pay credit and debit cards is limited. The amount of transactions varies in each bank and each country.
Some of the retailers and merchants set a low limit for contactless payment on their tap system to avoid any kind of fraud activity. Whereas some retailers support large transactions which require signature verification for approval.

How to use Tap to Pay card?

In the digital era, it is hard to select which card is useful and how to use it. Technological advances in banking require a high level of understanding about the useful features of the cards.
Due to the increased use of the Tap to Pay payment method, it is imperative to create awareness on how to use Tap to Pay.
Tap to Pay credit and debit cards use an EMV chip that can be used as a standard chip to tap-and-go payments. The Tap to Pay method is like the payment systems such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
No matter what type of card you have either Mastercard® or Visa®, there is not much different to using a Tap and Pay card. It works the same way as normal credit and debit cards.
You can use Tap and Pay cards:

  •   Check the card reader machine if it has a symbol that indicates contactless payment. Four curved lines on the card appear on the contactless readers of the card.
  •   When prompted, hold the credit or debit card in your hand at 2 inches distance from the POS terminal.
  •   You will receive confirmation as an indicator of purchase approval.

Once you develop an understanding and learn how to use Tap to Pay credit and debit cards, it will only take seconds to complete the purchase payment.

Where to tap to pay?

In the United States, thousands of retailers and merchants have begun to accept contactless payments. You can tap to pay at your favorite places such as vending machines, pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.
Public transits also allow people to pay fares using Tap to Pay cards. The number of retailers and merchants who support contactless technology to make payments and transactions is increasing rapidly.
However, some of the retailers and merchants do not accept Tap to Pay payments. In this case, you can either insert or swipe your card to complete the purchase transaction.

Is tapping to pay safe?

Many people are reluctant to try a new digital product launched in the market. It is because of increased security and privacy concerns.
Is it safe to use the Tap to Pay method to make payments? Are there any restrictions? Does it allow access to anyone to pay without authorization?
Tap to a Pay payment method is safe and secure in comparison to dipping your cards into the electronic data reader. But they lack privacy.
Tap to Pay credit and debit cards have a chip and an antenna to develop contact with the card reader. To do so, the reader gets a One-time password (OTP) to the card. It prevents the sharing of private account details to the reader.
Each time you purchase an item and pay, your card generates a new OTP. Tap to Pay cards offers data protection to ensure safe and secure payment.
Other than the secure payment process, the Zero Liability Policy for contactless payment states that cardholders are not responsible for any unauthorized transaction. It means that the card and payment security are not compromised.
The security feature of Tap and Pay include:

  •   Encryption – RFID technology used in Tap and Pay cards is secure because it uses advanced cryptography and international EMV chip standards. Unique encryption code expires in seconds and does not allow anyone to steal data.
  •   Limited Data – the transmission of data during a transaction is limited and include card number, language preferences, and another coding. Data such as bank account number, account holder name, and 3-digit security code is not transmitted while making a Tap to Pay payment.
  •   Short-range – The range to tap and pay is a maximum of 2 inches from a POS terminal. Due to proximity payment, it becomes difficult for the fraudsters to get access to the data. Even if they get the card data, they will not be able to get a counterfeit card for fraud.
  •   Low transaction limit – The transaction limit of Tap to Pay cards ranges between $50-$100. A large amount transaction requires a PIN or signature verification. In this manner, you can secure large fraud purchases, if your card is stolen.

However, experts advise keeping Tap to Pay cards wrapped in a steel card case or aluminum foil. It is to make sure that reduce the possibility of data stealing from fraudsters in your vicinity.
In contrast, it is essential to highlight that fraudsters can steal data using mobile applications. Although you do not necessarily give your credit or debit card to the retailer for payment, you must be careful while entering your PIN.
Regardless of the card type, the security of your card data lies in your hands. It depends on you how well you keep your data confidential.
The security feature of Tap and Pay

Benefits of Tap to Pay:

In addition to safe and secure payment, other benefits of Tap to Pay payment include:

Quick Payment:

You may be aware of the time required to make a transaction using a regular card. It takes quite a long to insert the card, get verification, and approve the transaction. Then you can finally remove your card.
In contrast, the contactless chip in the Tap to Pay takes seconds to complete a transaction. It is a quick payment method than paying cash, inserting, or swiping a card.


Purchasing using cash, inserting, and punching cards takes more time. You possibly will have to stand in long lines to get make a transaction.
The use of the Tap to Pay payment method has made payments more convenient and are less-time consuming. OTP is generated each time a transaction is made which makes it more convenient to avoid any fraudulent use.
It has also eliminated the necessity to socially interact with the retailers and to carry cash.

Less Contact:

Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, we all have got conscious to come into contact with the surfaces. It is where Tap and Pay gained popularity.
The tap and Pay method eliminates the necessity to interact with the surface and make transactions while maintaining distance.

No More Wear and Tear:

EMV chip specifications and magnetic strips on the banking cards can be worn out due to repeated and continuous contact with the POS devices.
You will not face this issue with Tap to Pay cards. EMV chip continues to work for years. You can simply use your Tap to Pay banking card with protection.
In any case, your card withholds, you can call your customer representative at the bank to get it replaced with a brand new card. However, it is extremely not likely to say that EMV chips can wear out effortlessly because you just tap your card to pay.

Banks That Issue Tap to Pay Cards:

You are likely discovering and collecting data regarding how Tap to Pay banking cards work. People in the United States are quickly accepting contactless payment systems and moving from traditional payment systems to digital ones.
Approximately 190M Tap to Pay Visa credit cards are circulated worldwide. It has been expected that the number of Tap to Pay with credit cards in usage would expand to 300 million by the end of 2021.
Currently, many of the key banks in America are distributing contactless credit cards by default. Banks that distribute Tap to Pay banking cards are:

  •   American Express
  •   Bank of America
  •   Capital One
  •   Chase
  •   Citi

All the American contactless card issuers have one or more Tap to Pay cards in their portfolio. If you do not see the Tap to Pay symbol on your banking card, you can contact the issuer to get yourself a new and updated substitute with Tap to Pay element.
Other than these American banks, each country’s banks have begun to offer cards with Tap to Pay feature.
Both developed and developing countries have adopted this technology to improve the experience of customers.  It has improved the purchasing process under stressed economic conditions over the past three years.

Future of Tap and Pay:

According to the Global Payments 2018 report, the in-person use of digital wallets in the United States is likely to increase at a 45% compound annual growth rate by 2022. The key factor to drive the growth of digital wallets would be Tap and Pay.
Why Tap and Pay would be the future of digital payments? The future growth of industries across the world depends on the advances in technology and products.
Generation Z and the millennials prefer to save time while communicating with the retailer for the payment and in checkout lines. They are more interested to make quick purchases and heading to the next activity of their day.
The pandemic situation has increased the importance of contactless credit and debit cards. Now, everyone around us is concerned about who has touched that bill.
The pandemic situation has changed the future of contactless payments. For instance, earlier in 2019 only 35% of the transactions in Germany were contactless.
Now, more than 50% of all the purchases in Germany have shifted to touchless payments.
Such rapid changes in the payment systems and the attitude of customers would allow Tap to Pay payments to overtake traditional cash payments and normal credit and debit card use in the next five years.
More than 50% of all the purchases in Germany have shifted to touchless payments

Your responsibilities:

However, Tap to Pay credit and debit cards are safe to use. Still, multiple levels of protection are required to avoid fraud.
Here are some tips you should consider preventing fraud:

  •   If you have lost your card, report it as soon as it is possible to your card issuer. Get your card canceled and ask the card issuers to issue you a new one.
  •   Do not choose an easy PIN that can be detected within no time. Avoid using digits for a PIN that are your address, birth dates, etc.
  •   Make sure to check your transactions daily either online or using your account’s monthly installment. If you notice any unknown transaction, report your card right away.
  •   Do not share your account details such as your card number on phone or while using the internet. Make sure that you are dealing with trusted people while sharing data.
  •   Do not share your PIN with anyone. If you do not remember numbers, write them down and keep them safe.
  •   When you travel, either keep your cards with you or keep them in a safe place.
  •   Your cards are as important as your cash. Avoid leaving your cards unattended at work or anywhere else.


Final Thoughts

Before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the pandemic situation worldwide, the Tap to Pay with credit cards was to be commonly accepted in the United States.
Tap to a Pay payment method is fast as compared to dipping the chip of your credit card. It is more secure than swiping the magnetic stripe on your regular credit card.
It is the new future of payment systems used to make transactions and purchases. It has been predicted that it will replace physical wallets with the wide acceptance of digital wallets.
Now that you know all about Tap to Pay cards, what they are, how they work, how to use them, and where to use them, take out your credit and debit cards and see if they have a contactless payment feature.
Load your credit and debit cards on the mobile wallet application to avoid long queues and make quick and easy payments.

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