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Firms working on contactless phone payments

Contactless payments by phone are popular overseas — but cannot be made by Bermuda bank card holders.

But preparations are being made for when the situation changes.

Paying for goods and services in a contactless way is popular because it avoids the need to handle cash and the requirement to put a pin number into a checkout keypad.

In Bermuda, this means payments with debit and credit cards for transactions up to a certain value, but in the future it could also include payment phone apps such as Samsung Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay.

The apps work in a similar way to a contactless card and use near-field communication between the phone and a checkout terminal to allow payment.

Phone app digital wallets have been introduced in many countries, but Bermuda is not among those listed as served by the tech giants' contactless payment apps.

However, Butterfield Bank and Mastercard are among the financial institutions working to prepare for the moment when the phone apps are enabled for bank cards issued in Bermuda.

A spokesman for Butterfield Bank said Bermuda fell under the jurisdiction of the Latin America and Caribbean region for major payment companies Mastercard and Visa.

He added: “To date, contactless NFC payment by phone or wearables, using Apple, Google and Samsung Pay applications, have not been enabled for cards issued in the Caribbean.

“Butterfield is working with the payment companies to prepare for the availability of NFC payments with Bermuda-issued cards.

“In the meantime, our merchant terminals are already equipped to accept NFC payment and many local vendors already process transactions for visitors to the island from the UK, Europe, the US and Canada who wish to pay with their mobile phone or smart watch.”

Jimena Delfino, the head of digital payments for Mastercard in the Caribbean, said: “In order to enable the bank cards issued in one market to transact in digital wallets, these applications have to be launched in that same market in the first place. This is not the case of Bermuda.

“Mastercard works closely with digital giants on expansion plans, and also with local stakeholders — issuers, acquirers and merchants — to prepare the market's ecosystem, so when the wallets are launched in the country, Bermuda can be ready.”

Apple Pay is available to customers in at least 45 countries and Samsung Pay was listed as being available in 24 countries in an article by Candid Technology in 2018.

Google said there were 29 countries where banks or cards support contactless payments with Google Pay on a phone.

A Google Pay spokesman told The Royal Gazette: “We want to make both in-store and online payments simple, seamless and secure for all our users and continue to work with the payment networks and banks to expand Google Pay acceptance across the world.”

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay were asked when they hoped to introduce their systems in Bermuda, but did not respond by press time.

Pay by phone: contactless payments by phone or wearables, using Apple, Google and Samsung Pay applications, have not yet been enabled for cards issued in Bermuda (Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

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Published July 11, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 11, 2020 at 8:35 am)

Firms working on contactless phone payments

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