Mastercard has announced it will up its current contactless payment limit from AU$100 to AU$200.
The increase will kick in on April 9 at Woolworths and Coles supermarkets, and will roll out to further retailers in the coming weeks.
This means card users throughout Australia will now be able to spend up to AU$200 using the PayPass function on their Mastercard without needing to enter a PIN.
It hopes the move will mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 by removing the need to touch a terminal.
"By permitting a larger number of transactions to take place using contactless without entering a PIN, fewer purchases will require customers to touch potentially infectious surfaces, handle cash, or use a pen to process payments at point of sale," the company said.
Australia has one of the highest usage rates of contactless payments. Mastercard reports that 85% of transactions over AU$100 are made contactless. It's a similar story where Visa is concerned, with 92% of in-person transactions on the Visa network utilising its PayWave service.
Currently, however, a PIN is required to process payments that are over AU$100.
"COVID-19 has become part of our new reality. Mastercard is committed to providing people with the safest, most secure way to pay for their purchases, whether that is the physical transaction itself or the security tools protecting their payment," Mastercard division president for Australasia Richard Wormald said.
"In times like this every effort, both big and small, matters and can have a positive impact on our society. Mastercard will continue to explore new ways to support businesses and consumers as we face this challenge together."
Mastercard is also working with industry partners to increase the contactless payment limit in Canada to CA$250.
FINANCIAL HARDSHIP HELP
Australia's largest banks have announced a handful of measures that aim to lift the financial burden faced from job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) on Friday said it would waive late payment fees and reduce minimum monthly payments on all credit cards for at least the next three months.
Personal loan customers can also request a reduction in their minimum repayments to AU$100 a month for up to six months on an opt-in basis from April 17.
For customers of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) who have been granted a six-month home loan deferral, the yellow bank announced it would offset interest costs for the six-month period. This would be done via a one-off payment.
CBA said it would also automatically refund the late fees and interest charged for any customers who were unable to make their minimum credit card repayments in March.
For ANZ bank customers experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19, they can apply to have their home loan repayments placed on hold for up to six months, with interest capitalised. This will be reassessed after three months, ANZ said.
The blue bank is also asking credit card customers to make contact to discuss options if they cannot make payments, same with its personal loan customers.
Meanwhile, Westpac customers who have lost their jobs or suffered loss of income as a result of COVID-19 can apply to defer mortgage repayments for three months, with an extension for a further three months after review.
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