How to shop without cash or touching the EFTPOS machine

We’re all adjusting to life in the ‘new normal’ of isolation and social distancing. And while regular hand sanitising and limiting contact with others are some of the ways to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19, we still have to leave home to shop for life’s necessities. So how can we do it without putting our health at risk?

For older and more vulnerable Australians, the easiest way to shop safely is by ordering groceries online and getting them home delivered. However, for most of us who can’t access this service and still have to visit the shops, contactless payment is the safest way to pay.

With some supermarkets and other businesses no longer accepting cash due to the risk of transmitting COVID-19, your debit and credit cards have become more important than ever. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also advised people not to use cash notes, and to use cashless payment when possible to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Contactless payment with your phone

So how can you pay safely without making any contact with the EFTPOS machine? If you have a smartphone, you can quickly and easily add your debit or credit card to your phone’s digital wallet. Simply open the wallet app on your phone and follow the steps to add your cards. When you want to make a purchase, just tap and pay with your phone. Keep in mind that some phones and operating systems may require you to enter a PIN for larger amounts.

Most Apple iPhones, Samsung mobiles, and phones that run Google Android have digital wallets – even some wearable devices like smart watches can store your cards. Of course, your financial institution will also need to offer this digital service, so check with them first – CUA offers Google PayTM, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay for debit cards only.

Added security

You may be asking, ‘yeah, but is it safe?’ The answer is, it’s probably safer than carrying around and paying with your plastic card. Your digital wallet can only be accessed when your phone has been unlocked, and your digital wallet app opened. Then, each purchase is authenticated using biometrics (your fingerprint or facial recognition depending on your phone) before the purchase can be made.

It’s these extra layers of security that make it much safer. Your physical card, on the other hand, is sitting in your wallet or purse with the potential to be lost, stolen or its microchip being skimmed by scammers passing by.

Let’s say you lost your plastic card, anyone could use the card in stores to purchase as many transactions under $200 as they could get away with because no PIN is required. They could also make a whole lot of online purchases with your card since they have access to your full card number, expiry date and CVC number on the back.

With your card in your digital wallet, the thieves would need to firstly unlock your phone if it’s passcode protected, and then try to get around the fingerprint or facial recognition protections in place to authenticate each transaction. Even if they could activate the card, it’s appearance in your digital wallet doesn’t show them the full card number, expiry date or CVC number which limits their ability to make online purchases.

Fast debit card replacement

Another great part of having a card in your smartphone is that can be replaced much faster. For financial institutions like CUA, you’d simply call us to report a lost physical card and it can be replaced in your iPhone’s digital wallet by the next morning, ready to use. It means you can be shopping with it while your physical card is mailed out to you.

If you’d like to learn how to add your cards to your smart phone’s digital wallet and shop safely and securely, we have a range of online tools to help.

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Any advice contained in this article is general advice only and does not take into account your objectives, financial position or needs. Before making a decision to purchase or continue to hold any financial product, please consider whether any advice is appropriate for your circumstances, as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide.