Mastercard announced today that it is championing efforts to increase contactless payment limits across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region as people look for safer ways to pay in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is in line with recommendations from global and regional health authorities and governments to practice social distancing that has led a growing number of merchants to encourage consumers to pay with contactless over cash to avoid human-to-human contact.
Globally, Mastercard has been spearheading the transition to contactless for over 15 years. In MEA, the company has worked with various industry partners and sectors in multiple markets to increase the use of digital and contactless payment technology in an effort to enhance safety, security, speed and convenience in the payment experience for cardholders. In 2019, the MEA region saw >200% growth in contactless transactions. Today almost 1 in 9 Mastercard transactions at point-of-sale (POS) terminals in MEA are contactless.
Central banks across the region in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt have already increased the cardholder verification method (CVM) limit, which will ultimately improve purchase experiences for people across the region, making them safer and more convenient for consumers and businesses alike. Mastercard is working swiftly with all financial institutions, issuers and merchants to ensure this update is executed securely for shoppers in the region.
“Mastercard remains committed to offering safe, secure, and simple payment solutions across the region. In the current environment, we are grateful that contactless payments are available so consumers can follow social distancing recommendations, and that people are embracing these safe and hygienic solutions as their preferred form of payment every day. Today’s announcement reflects the pace of those changing behaviors, offering consumers ease, speed and peace of mind in a rapidly changing world. We will continue to work with our industry partners to guide and support them through this effort,” said Mete Guney, Executive Vice President of Services, Middle East & Africa at Mastercard.
Presently, while following best practices from around the world, Mastercard is working closely with its partners to enable businesses and retailers to implement contactless limit increases quickly and efficiently. Contactless payments for transaction amounts below the CVM limits do not require a physical PIN entry, therefore this important move would allow cardholders to make higher value payments without having to touch the POS terminal keypad – enabling consumers to purchase more of what they need with the security and touch-free experience expected from contactless payments.
Cardholders should look for the contactless symbol on the front or back of their credit or debit cards to determine whether they have a contactless-enabled card or can add their debit or credit card to their mobile wallets on their contactless-enabled devices to tap and pay where contactless payments are accepted.
Mastercard’s effort to raise CVM limits is one of many the company is leading to do its part for its employees, customers and cardholders. Most recently, the company announced a partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to accelerate the development and access to treatment for COVID-19 with the initial grant of US$20 million funding announced to three institutions to fund clinical trials.