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Cash To Contactless: Navigating Physical Security Challenges For In-Store Payments

Daena Skinner
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RBR Global forecasts that 80% of credit and debit cards will have contactless functionality by 2027. Contactless payments have swept the retail industry, offering speedy and easy payments for customers. 

But what does this mean for security in retail stores?

Keep reading as we explore the top physical security threats presented by contactless payment methods and how to build a physical security strategy that mitigates these concerns.

Why Is Contactless Making Such An Impact?

Contactless payments have transformed the way we perform in-store transactions. However, there can be risks to not using a PIN code to make a transaction. So why do stores and customers prefer this method?

Here are some of the advantages of implementing contactless payments in an in-store location:

  • Faster transactions: Pin codes increase the time a customer takes to pay. Should they enter the code incorrectly, this will cause a hold-up. Customers behind them will wait longer, increasing the likelihood of abandoning their carts. A speedy checkout benefits your business and improves the customer experience.
  • Mobile payments: Using contactless payment methods allows customers to ditch their cards and pay using a digital debit or credit card on their mobile device. This means they can make a purchase even if they forget their wallet or purse. Making payments more accessible encourages sales.
  • Facilitating easy payments: Consumers generally lean towards convenient solutions that make every day easier. Contactless allows them to swipe their card or mobile, collect their goods, and leave. No pin, no swiping, no signature. It’s easy to see why customers are swaying towards contactless! This ease of transaction aligns with the increasing popularity of PayFac (Payment Facilitator) models, which streamline payment processes for in-store purchases, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Adopting contactless benefits both the customer and the retail business. But what’s the catch?

Contactless Payments: What Are The Risks?

Like most things in this world, contactless payments have a flaw or two. Most of the negatives of this payment option relate to security. 

What risks are you exposed to when using contactless payments in a store? Let’s discuss.

Illegal Readers

A contactless card can be used to make a payment without your consent. Should a scammer purchase an illegal card reader, they may be able to use short-distance scanning to steal money from your card. 

This means someone could steal from you without your knowledge while walking around a store or public space. Luckily, most purses and wallets come with RFID-blocking card inserts, which make it impossible to read your card without withdrawing it from its holder.

Card Theft

Unfortunately, with no need for a pin or signature with contactless payments, thieves can spend small amounts of money on your card unchecked should they steal it. As soon as you realize someone has stolen the card, you can contact your bank to terminate the card immediately, and you may receive compensation for any money spent by the fraudster.

Data Theft

Fraudsters can access your card’s data using card skimmers and long-distance scanners to access your RFID chip and commit data theft. This means they could access all the card information needed to make an online purchase or set up a direct debit on your account. Keeping track of your payments and monthly outgoings will help you immediately spot fraud on your account and request a new account number and card. 

Top Tips For Securing Contactless Payments For In-Store Transactions

As a retail store, you ensure that payments and transactions are safe. A customer could hold you liable for any security issues with your contactless payments, so it’s in your best interest to start with some minor security measures that could make a world of difference!

Installing Security For Payment Facilitation

Your physical security planning should include elements that protect your store and customers. 

A great way to protect your customers is with security cameras. Smart security cameras are fitted with AI to detect specific incidents in your store. They use behavior recognition to detect potential security threats and immediately alert you. 

Since you won’t be able to monitor your store all day with security cameras and staff presence, a smart technology solution is the only way to have air-tight optics. Smart security cameras will pick up theft in your stores, including theft of personal belongings. So, if a customer’s card gets stolen on your property, you’ll get a notification and alert them right away. From there, they can cancel their card before the thief can spend their money. 

Restricting Contactless Payment Amounts

When a thief uses a stolen card at your store, this could impact your revenue and the legitimacy of the sale. Should the bank fail to refund the money spent, the onus lies on your business to return the stolen money to the victim. 

To mitigate the impact of these incidents, you can limit the amount of money a customer can spend using contactless payment.  If the payment is above this amount, the customer can simply use their PIN to pay. You can also make exceptions for mobile contactless payments, as a face or fingerprint ID is typically required to make a mobile payment. 

Setting the payment limit to a lower number will prevent large payments from being made using stolen cards.

Checking For Card Skimmers

Sometimes, employees install card skimmers on retail store machines without a manager’s knowledge. To ensure your employees do not commit card fraud in your store, you should regularly inspect your card machines and ensure no skimmers. Unfortunately, employee theft and fraud do exist, and keeping an eye on your card machines is essential.

RFID Blockers

If you offer reward or loyalty cards for your customers, you can fit them with RFID-blocking technology to help them keep their cards safe. Not only will this boost applications for loyalty cards, but it’s also an excellent advertisement for your store. Customers will be reminded of your store whenever they open their wallets or purses!


The new age of contactless payments has arrived, and traditional card payments are becoming redundant. But, contactless payment methods are only possible when stores offer secure customer transactions. Consider the risks of contactless payments and whether there’s anything you can do to make contactless safer for your in-store locations.

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