IDEX is once again advocating for contactless payments in response to COVID-19. The company notes that shared surfaces can transmit pathogens like the coronavirus, which is why the World Health Organization urged consumers to avoid cash and keypads during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, keypad use has gone up as lockdowns have started to relax in certain areas. That increases the risk of further outbreaks, especially since the global threat has not yet disappeared. With that in mind, IDEX argues that the recent changes should be made permanent to prevent the spread of current and future pathogens.
As it relates to COVID-19 specifically, IDEX cites the New England Journal of Medicine to point out that the coronavirus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for as long as three days in the right conditions. The number of surfaces that fall into one of those two categories is virtually limitless, covering everything from consumer items like drink bottles to infrastructure like arm rests, elevator buttons, and (of course) keypads.
The story is less clear when it comes to cash. In some cases, the virus survived for mere minutes. In others, it stuck around for several days. However, it is worth noting that cash is rarely washed, and is circulated much more frequently than other items.
With that in mind, IDEX went on to highlight the limitations of a contact-based system. According to IDEX, creating a truly sterile environment would be prohibitively difficult. Alcohol-based sterilizers and disinfectant wipes are only 60 percent effective, and many businesses do not have the resources or the personnel to clean a keypad after every customer.
With a contactless payment card, consumers no longer need to make physical contact with a payment terminal. That makes it a safer option, and one that could dramatically improve public health if it becomes the new normal in the retail industry.
This is not the first time that IDEX has emphasized the safety benefits of biometric cards. The company has predicted that COVID-19 will accelerate the transition to contactless systems, and is now providing fingerprint technology for multiple payment trials to bring that to fruition.
November 25, 2020 – by Eric Weiss