Understanding your touchless payment options

Jun 30 2021 | Julie Warshaw, PayPal Editorial Staff

If your business doesn't offer touchless payment options, you might experience customers doing some distancing of their own: 57% of consumers say a merchant's digital payment offerings impact their willingness to shop in their stores,1 with 26% saying stores must accept contactless credit card payments for them to feel comfortable going inside for shopping.2 
Bottom line: Your business's touch-free payment options can have a major impact on whether some customers ever make it through the front door.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular touchless payment options and how they work.
1. QR codes
If you have a printer, you can start accepting QR code payments in minutes. A QR code is a type of scannable barcode that stores or links to information. You can create and print a QR code that connects customers with your store's account so they can pay you. A customer simply scans your QR code with their smartphone, enters the amount they owe, and confirms the payment.
For example, you can use your PayPal Business account to create a QR code for customers to scan and pay using their PayPal app.
QR codes don't require any special equipment like a card reader or terminal. All you have to do is print out your QR code (on anything from fancy signage to a simple piece of printer paper) and display it at your register.
2. Credit and debit cards
A card that is equipped to make touchless payments looks just like a regular credit or debit card. The difference is contactless cards contain a small embedded chip that emits a very short-range signal. When your customer holds the card close to a contactless-enabled terminal, it sends an encrypted, one-time code containing information tied to their current transaction. The payment terminal then connects to the payer's bank or credit card company like usual.
Even though it's often called "tap-to-pay," shoppers don't actually need to tap the card to the terminal of your point of sale system. All a customer needs to do is hold the card a couple of inches above the terminal. The transaction may take a second or two to complete, so make sure the customer doesn't pull their card away too quickly.
3. Digital wallets
Digital wallets store your credit cards, debit cards, bank account information, or gift cards on an app. When a customer is ready to pay, they simply open the app, select the payment method they want to use, hold the phone up to the terminal, and press a button to confirm.
The customer's phone uses a near-field communication (NFC) chip to enable the transaction. And just like a contactless credit card, it only works over very short distances with a contactless-enabled terminal. Digital wallet apps have encrypted security like advanced tokenization to protect the payment, not to mention the fact that smartphones are nearly impossible to access without a code or face scan. This gives digital wallet payments an extra level of security for the user compared to contactless cards, which anyone who finds them can use.
4. Store apps
Some business owners choose to create an app for their store that includes digital wallet functionality. These dedicated apps let loyal customers save a payment method or gift card right in the app, and then pay at checkout by holding their phone close to the payment terminal with the store's app open.
This functionality makes a lot of sense if your business already has an e-commerce app or you're interested in building out your loyalty program. By offering rewards points or discounts for shoppers who pay using your app, you can boost customer loyalty and incentivize future purchases with promotions based on shopping behavior.
5. Wearables
Sure, paying with your phone is convenient, but what about paying with your watch? Lots of payment apps also have smartwatch integrations that let shoppers pay just by holding up their wrist, saving them from having to take their phone out of their pocket, backpack, or purse. And when a customer takes off their watch, the watch locks access to the payment app, adding an extra level of security if it gets lost or stolen.
Improve the customer experience with touchless payments.
By letting customers pay the way they want to pay, you can help increase the odds that they'll keep shopping at your business, (especially if you're targeting Gen Z and millennials, who say that digital payment options are a deciding factor in where to shop3).
After spending more than a year social distancing, it's become second nature for some people to try to avoid physical contact. And even when distancing stops being the norm, contactless payments are a great way to help you protect the health of both your customers and staff, while improving your payment workflows, security, and efficiency.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
1-3 How We Shop: Measuring the Rapid Digital Shift, PYMNTS.com survey done in collaboration with and supported by PayPal, August 2020. Methodology: Online survey conducted across 2,163 U.S. consumers.

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Frequently asked questions.

You can make payments online, by phone, or by mail.
  • To make payments online, log into your PayPal account, then select PayPal Credit. You'll then be transferred to the Synchrony Bank servicing site where you can make one-time payments, or have the option to set up recurring payments.
  • To make payments by phone, call Synchrony Bank at 844-373-4961, Mon-Fri 8am-11pm ET, and Sat-Sun 9am-9pm ET.
  • To make payments by mail, use the payment address provided on your billing statement.
Pay in 4 is a new PayPal pay later option that allows you, as a merchant, to get paid up front while your customers pay for their purchase over about a six-week period. Pay in 4 allows customers to pay for their purchases in 4 interest-free payments with the down payment due at time of purchase.  It is available on qualifying purchases of $30 to $1,500.  When a customer is shopping online and pays with PayPal, they will see Pay in 4 as one of the available payment methods on eligible transactions. Once they apply and are approved, they can finish checking out. The customer’s down payment will be due at the time of the transaction and 3 subsequent payments will be due every 15 days thereafter. You, as a merchant, will get paid up front.

Taking card & contactless payments

Follow these steps to take a card payment:

  1. Add a product to your shopping cart or enter a custom amount.
  2. Tap the Charge button.
  3. Choose Card as your payment method.
  4. If you only want to take card payments, disable the cash payment option in "Settings", "Payment settings", "Cash" and switch off cash payments.
  5. Ask your customer to either tap or insert their card.
  6. The card must be held within 2 inches of the reader’s display. You’ll hear a beep when the card has been read.
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions. If applicable, ask your customer to enter their PIN (Personal Identification Number) or sign.
  8. Check the display on the reader and on your app to confirm that the payment is approved.
  9. If you’re using one of our supported printers, the Star Printer - MC3 Black (MCP31LBi BK US) or SML200 (SM-L200-UB40), you can ask the customer if they want a printed receipt.
  10. If they’d prefer a digital receipt, ask for their email address or phone number.
  11. Tap Done.
If you want to accept a card payment remotely, for instance when making a card payment over the phone, you can use our manual card entry feature. To enable manual card entry, go to "Settings", "Payment Settings", "Manual card entry" and toggle the feature to “On”.

Payments made through PayPal Zettle are recorded as “ZTL" on your customer’s bank statement.

If a payment is declined, ask your customer to use another card or payment method, or ask them to contact their bank for more information. 

As a seller, it's important that you check the following when accepting card payments:
  • The card holder's signature is on the back of the card.
  • The card holder's signature on the device screen matches the one on the card.
  • The card hasn't been modified or tampered with.
  • The card hasn't expired.

As an additional security measure, you can check the cardholder's ID to confirm that it matches the name on the card.

Taking cash payments

Follow these steps to take a cash payment:
  1. Add a product to your shopping cart or enter a custom amount.
  2. Tap the Charge button.
  3. Choose Cash as your payment method.
  4. Enter the amount you received from your customer and tap OK. You’ll see how much change to give your customer.
  5. Tap OK.
  6. If you’re using one of our supported printers, the Star Printer - MC3 Black (MCP31LBi BK US) or SML200 (SM-L200-UB40), you can ask the customer if they want a printed receipt. 
  7. If they'd prefer a digital receipt, ask for their email address or phone number.
  8. Tap Done
Good to know:
  • When you accept a cash payment and process it through PayPal Zettle, you don’t pay any transaction fees.
  • If you’ve enabled cash as a payment method, your cash payments will be recorded in the system.  
Accepting PayPal payments using QR codes is a new way to pay that's fast, easy and minimizes your need to physically touch cash or your card reader. With PayPal, your customer can pay later and split their payment but you'll still get paid straight away. To use this payment method, you need to be on iOS 13 or above for Apple iOS devices and Android 5 or above for Android devices.

How does it work? 

In your PayPal Zettle app, you generate a QR code for each transaction. To pay, your customer opens the camera on their phone, or their PayPal app, and scans the code to pay.

To take payments with PayPal QR codes:
  1. Select PayPal from your list of payment options in the checkout.
  2. Ask your customer to open the camera on their phone or their PayPal app (your customer must have a PayPal account to use this feature).
  3. Present your QR code for them to scan.
  4. Ask them to tap confirm on their phone to complete the payment.

How much does it cost?

The transaction fee is 1.9% + $0.10 USD for payments $10.01 and above, and 2.4% + $0.05 USD for payments $10.00 USD and below.

What are the transaction limits for paying with QR code?

A lower limit of $1.00 USD and a higher limit of $5,000.00 USD.

Can I deactivate the feature if I want to?

Yes. Go back to Settings in your app and toggle the PayPal option to turn it off.

Do all devices have access to this payment method?

QR code payments are only available to smartphones and tablets running the PayPal Zettle app on iOS 13 or Android 5.0 and higher.

When will my money be deposited?

As soon as the payment has been accepted.

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