South African Consumers Make the Move to Contactless Payments

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As South Africa imposed necessary restrictions on social distancing in March, three-quarters of South African consumers (75 per cent) say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers.

Consumer polling by Mastercard, studying changing consumer behaviours in 19 countries around the world, paints a picture of accelerated and sustained contactless adoption.

“The act of buying everyday supplies such as eggs, toilet paper, medicine and other necessities has changed dramatically, with shoppers having to adjust to social distancing measures and other new challenges,” says Mark Elliott, division president for Mastercard Southern Africa.

“According to the new Mastercard study, this shift in behaviour is particularly clear at checkout as people express a desire for contactless and voice concerns over cleanliness and safety at the point of sale.”


In fact, findings from South African respondents show:

  • Contactless Move to Top of Wallet – Perceptions of safety and convenience have spurred a preference for contactless cards and reminded consumers of the convenience of tapping. Nearly half (47 per cent) of South African respondents have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless.
  • Confidence in Contactless – The disruption has led to increased concern from consumers on cash usage and positive perceptions towards contactless due to the peace of mind that it provides. Forty-four per cent of South African respondents said they have reduced their use of cash while 20 per cent say that they do not use cash at all since the pandemic began. Eighty-seven per cent of South African respondents are concerned about the cleanliness of signature or touch pads, and the majority (88 per cent) view contactless as the cleaner way to pay. Furthermore, 79 per cent say contactless payments are faster than cash, enabling customers to get in and out of stores quicker.
  • Contactless is Here to Stay – Sixty-nine per cent of South African respondents agree that contactless is now their preferred payment method, with 71 per cent stating that they prefer shopping at merchants that accept contactless. The majority (78 per cent) also say they will continue to use contactless post-pandemic.

Edited by Jenna Delport
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