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How long do contactless payments take to process?

Article Date: 2019-06-26

The main reason that contactless payments have boomed in popularity in the last few years is just how quick they can make payments on a machine. A quick flash of your card and you can be on your way in no time to join the 400m+ contactless payments that are made each month

While your time at the card machine can be vastly reduced, the time it takes for that payment to actually clear in your account is an entirely different matter. This depends on a few key factors including the machine, the vendor and your bank. 

How does it all work? 

The difference depends on the configuration of the card terminal and whether or not it is set up for online or offline payments. Online is where the terminal authorises the payment with your bank before approving the transaction and offline is where the bank is not yet contacted. 

The majority of PIN payments are completed via the online method, meaning the payment will show in your pending transactions straight away, making you can be fully aware of how much money you actually have to spend. In contrast to this, contactless payments are mostly made offline with your bank being notified at a later date. 

This means that they won’t show as pending straight away and instead will only show once the merchant has processed the payment. This is a step that can take up to a few days, even though the two payment methods technically take the same amount of time to process. 

How long does it take? 

Due to those reasons, it’s impossible to give an accurate figure on exactly how long a payment will take. Large companies are usually more prompt with the processing of their payment, and this will often take less than a day. 
For other companies though, it can take up to a week for it to clear, which can be a problem for many. When you make a payment, you’re not going to know how the terminal is configured and how long the merchant takes to process the payment, which can be inconvenient for the £3.3 billion worth of payments that are made via contactless each month.  
It’s important to always keep a tab of exactly what you have spent in order to make sure that you never go into your overdraft. If you keep a note of this, you’ll be able to see which merchants are quick to process payments and which ones are a little slower.  
In 2017, debit card payments overtook cash payments with 13.2 billion transactions being made. An increasing percentage of them are being made via contactless cards and that will encourage companies to ensure that customers' payments are processed as quickly as possible. 


If you misssed the last of our posts on card payments articles you can read 'Contactless payments are the present, not the future ' at the following link -

This article is written and produced by Valitor - an approved NFFF Associate Member.

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