Just like the rest of the world, Canadians have been strongly urged to stay at home. Of course, we’re also encouraged to practice social distancing when it is absolutely necessary to leave home. Businesses everywhere are also following suit in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While many have had to close up shop for the time being, essential businesses continue to provide us with life’s necessities. Of course, they are taking precautions too.
It’s now common to see markings on the floor in grocery stores. They designate where shoppers should stand at the checkout. That way, they can be assured to be separated by, at least, the recommended two metres. As well, credit card issuers, Mastercard and Visa, have stepped up to the plate to ensure that the payment process is quicker than ever for shoppers.
As Clare O’Hara of The Globe and Mail reports, the Mastercard and Visa initiative has been put in place to promote safety. Now, shoppers have more opportunities to avoid touching point of sale machines to punch in their PIN codes when paying for purchases with credit cards and debit cards.
The announcement was made earlier this month “as government officials recommend physical distancing during the pandemic and a growing number of merchants and consumers are switching to safer ways to pay for purchases that do not require touching PIN pads,” reports O’Hara, “Visa confirmed to The Globe it is also increasing its limits.”
With the coronavirus reportedly able to live on surfaces, many retailers decided to stop accepting cash last month. As O’Hara notes, it was in an effort to limit employees’ potential exposure to COVID-19. “Shortly after, the Bank of Canada issued a release ‘strongly’ urging retailers to stop refusing cash payments to ensure all Canadians – especially seniors and low-income households – have access to purchases they need,” she informs.
Retailers, however, were not dissuaded. “Safety first” thinking has evidently taken precedence. “While cash may have been king in the past, more stores are hoping you will pay with plastic instead,” reports Pat Foran of CTV News, “They also would rather you not insert your card and use the keypad but instead tap to make your purchase.”
Karl Littler is the senior vice president of Public Affairs with the Retail Council. In Foran’s article, he provides additional insight as to why the major credit card companies raised the tap limit for Canadian cardholders.
“We are pleased that Visa and Mastercard made the move to $250 pretty quickly and we are hoping that Interac can as well,” Littler is quoted as saying, “There is nothing bad about cash, but in general we would prefer people touch as few surfaces as possible. The optimal system would be the tap system.”
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