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What did I miss about PayPass cards at Carrefour in France?

To my great satisfaction I read recently that Carrefour will issue
it's PASS card with contactless technology in collaboration with
MasterCard.

The new card will be on the cutting edge of current card technology,
including multiple accounts on the same chip, giving consumers the
choice to pay with their own money (debit) or funds made available by
their bank (credit). It also includes extended purchasing guarantees
for electrical/electronical goods, and Carrefour's loyalty scheme.

I was all in all quite pleased about the prospect of paying using the
contactless card, and benefit from increased speed and convenience
when checkouting out of Carrefour stores. That is, until I realized
that someone had decided to out a max limit of €25 for contactless
transactions, which means that I will have another factor to consider
when paying my groceries: tap&go or dip&PIN?

Why complicate the process?
Honestly, I am not sure. Security? Could be. Someone in the card
organization or the issuer might believe that it is inherently more
risky to let me use the convience of a contactless interface. I don't.
Prove me wrong, but I am willing to take the risk. The card issuer
should, as well, in my view.

War on cash, then? Well, maybe. MasterCard and Visa have always wanted
to replace cash, and they are doing a decent job at is as well.
However, the war will not be won by complicating the cardholders' lives.

The limit of €25 has apparently been set based on research indicating
that 80% of all cash transactions are below this threshold.

Really? I actually checked out my grocery shopping transactions over
the last 6 months, and here is what I found:
- I did 85 supermarket transactions, at an average of €58 per
transaction.
- 80% of the transactions were above €25.
- My card payments ranged from a low €10 up to a solid €163.

So what did I miss re. Contactless payments and the imposed €25 limit?
At least not that most of my transactions are aboove the limit.
Neither that I would be less than enthusiastic about contactless if
someone imposes usage barriers and complicates my life.
Not even the potential confusion at the "moment of truth" when
cardholders must choose between tap&go or dip&PIN depending on the
amount.

Now, maybe the press release about the new card did not tell the whole
story. Maybe the limit only refers to the need for PIN verification of
the transaction depending on amount, ie. Allows for contacless
transactions without a PIN below €25, and contactless with a PIN code
above the limit.

I certainly hope so. Otherwise Carrefour can look forward to some
interesting times soon, with confused customers and frustrated
employees at the check-out.

Comments: (5)

Denis Vacher
Denis Vacher - orange - paris 29 January, 2009, 10:26Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

May be the must important thing in the announce is the B2B signal for France market where there is no interbanking plan to deploy NFC card : have you seen that a classical French payment logo is missing on this Banking Card ?

Hans Hagen
Hans Hagen - Ferratum - Nantes 30 January, 2009, 21:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Denis,

Actually, I had not noticed. The missing logo is sort of an omen, isn't it? Times are changing fast for national schemes!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 February, 2009, 12:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The answer is perception and risk.

It's a no brainer anyway because there are easier, safer, more cost-effective and user friendly ways to achieve the objective (unless perhaps you are a card brand).

 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 February, 2009, 15:50Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Yes, because of risk mngmt and to target "only" low value payments, it is limited to 25 Euros.

The issue gets even a bit more complicated when we are talking about a non-card form(where there is no contact interface). Online pin & contactless could be a solution - and that's what we are trying to do.

And the location of cless acceptance is another topic - Do you really need fast check out in a supermarket ?

Hans Hagen
Hans Hagen - Ferratum - Nantes 09 February, 2009, 14:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good question re location for contactless. I know supermarket chains are keen to speed up the check-out process. Secondly, contactless may also add some value in self-service check-out lanes.

However, the novelty of contactless for marketing purposes might be as important as speedy check-out.