Since the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading throughout the world, UnionPay International has ramped up the issuing of contactless cards.

Given the fears that folks have regarding contracting the virus, exchanging cash may cause unwanted levels of anxiety. For this reason, contactless payments are growing in popularity.

UnionPay card holders are able to make withdrawls at FNB, Nedbank, Absa Bank and Standard Bank ATMs as well as make use of certain speedpoints. Until now, however, contactless payments have been tricky.

That changed at the weekend when FNB announced that UnionPay cardholders would be able to make contactless payments at its speedpoints.

“FNB has a diverse contactless payments ecosystem from a card acceptance and payments perspective. We have seen significant growth in the acceptance of contactless card payments as more consumers adopt safer payment and shopping habits. Adding UnionPay to our platform will certainly elevate this trend,” said chief executive officer at FNB Merchant Services, Thokozani Dlamini.

Research from ABI Research foresees an additional 110 million contactless payment cards will be issued in 2020 accounting for 65 percent of all cards issued this year.

“The way people pay for things is rapidly evolving and changing. COVID-19 has driven a significant shift in consumer spending habits spurred by economic uncertainly and a push toward the purchase of mainly essential items. There is also a surge in e-commerce whereby consumers are becoming even more heavily reliant on online retail channels to avoid crowded places to limit social interactions,” said research director at ABI Research, Phil Sealy.

UnionPay, as a result, suggests that its cardholders make use of contactless payments where ever possible.

“We encourage UnionPay cardholders to use contactless payments especially during this challenging time. We at UnionPay take as our responsibility to ensure safe, simple and smooth payment experience to our cardholders to minimize the impact of the pandemic on their daily life,” said general manager at UnionPay International Africa, Luping Zhang.

This move from FNB makes it the first bank in South Africa to accept UnionPay contactless payments at its SpeedPoint terminals.