Woolworths has partnered with Visa to allow ‘contactless’ card payments for all transactions up to $100 across its entire retail empire.
The company said today it would start retro-fitting the payment terminals later this year across Woolworths supermarkets, Big W department stores, Caltex petrol stations, Dick Smith technology stores and a raft of liquor outlets (BWS, Dan Murphys, Woolworths Liquor).
The payment terminals will allow shoppers to swipe a card in front of a terminal for low-value transactions, rather than requiring PIN or signature.
The retail giant has released a request for proposal for vendors interested in a project to replace 30,000 integrated PIN pads over the next few months to upgrade to terminals that can accept contactless payments.
The retail group’s launch partner for the service is Visa’s payWave system, already in use by the likes of 7-Eleven and McDonalds among others.
A spokesman for Visa said payWave-enabled contactless cards are available from ANZ, NAB, Westpac, Macquarie Bank and a range of credit unions and building societies.
A spokesman for Woolworths said the retailer was not prepared to disclose whether it would open up its contactless terminals to a competing service offered by Mastercard, and Mastercard's local contactless transaction partner the Commonwealth Bank.
Woolworths will, however, continue to offer a Mastercard solution in combination with HSBC at its Caltex service stations – a service established in 2009 called ‘ePump’.
“We were the first to introduce contactless payment facilities at our petrol stations in 2009 via our proprietary e-pump technology,” said Dhun Karai, head of group financial services at Woolworths.
“Woolworths was also Australia’s first national retailer to implement world class chip payments security as well as pre-swipe and the provision of PIN on credit card payments that have allowed our customers a faster and more secure service at the checkouts.”
Woolworths said it would reveal more about the service close to its official launch date.
In technology circles, interest in contactless payment is focused around the potential for near field communication chips – the technology that underpins contactless payments – to be embedded in the next generation of smartphones.
This would enable the mobile phone to also act as a digital wallet for consumption of some low-value transactions.
Both ANZ and Westpac have announced trials of NFC technology embedded within smart devices in recent months.
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