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The COVID19 virus is a new risk to all of us, but especially to retailers. We know it is communicated through the air and on surfaces, like many other viruses we have seen before. The difference this time is we do not have vaccines or clear treatment protocols.

Any physical retail shopping exposes everyone to contacting surfaces where virus transmission could occur.  We do have ways of reducing some of that risk.

We are keeping social distance; we have limited mobility; we have reduced gatherings where multiple contacts add risk.  For retailers, they are limiting the number of people who come into their stores and asking those who do come in to respect social distancing.

We know the math.  The more points of physical contact that take place, the more opportunities the virus has to infect another person.  Our entire society is trying to reduce those contacts.

There is an easy piece of technology that we should be using – contactless payments using RFID.  This technology has been around since gas companies introduced them in 1997 with speedy payment fobs; tap cards and RFID on our smart devices have been around since 2011.  We need to increase the use of these contactless payment systems, via enabled devices or credit cards.

Imagine tapping or scanning to make purchases.  There is no contact with a terminal that has been touched by hundreds of fingers and hands, simply a tap.  Remember, those hundreds of fingers and hands have also touched hundreds of other solid points of contact.

This technology has not been implemented in the US due to “the cost.”  When we are talking about the cost of a life or the reduction of possible transmission of a virus that will be around for a long time, it seems short-sighted not to have more retailers in the US using this system.

The cost of retailers upgrading to tap or scan is a tiny price to pay versus closing down businesses or reducing people’s ability to buy.  No need for gloves that can also pick up the virus and then be littered on the ground.

While tap was mostly intended for small purchases, the limit in Canada is now $250.  I know I haven’t touched a terminal, gloved or not, for more than a couple months.  Even at Costco, I only show the back of my card where my membership is for a cashier to scan.  No touches.

When we need to reduce the contact points between people, this seems like a no brainer.  If you don’t have or use a “tap” card – do so for your own safety.  You can also use your smart phone where you can, at stores like Starbucks and others.  Let’s eliminate contact points to ensure our own and everyone’s safety.

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