The European Banking Authority (EBA) is following the lead of the World Health Organization (WHO) about not using cash and sticking to forms of payment that can better stem the spread of the virus. The WHO recommends methods like holding a card above a payment terminal or using a smartphone app like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.
The EBA also said that payment firms should increase contactless payment limits to 50 euros, which is $54, if they can do so.
Some bakeries in Paris have already implemented contactless payments, and bus drivers in the country, who are worried about handling money, have seen authorities introduce an option for text message payments.
The EBA will also relax rules on customer authentication, which includes a process where a customer’s identity is verified in more than one way. This will be applicable up to the 50-euro max.
“EBA encourages consumers and merchants to take necessary sanitary precautions when providing, or making use of, point-of-sale terminals to pay for goods in-store that require a PIN, including by considering all payment methods available, such as contactless or remote payments,” the watchdog said.
Worldline, a payments company, said that many merchants were opting for contactless payments and refusing to accept cash, or at least encouraging customers to not use it.
Online neobank N26 said it has seen card payments increase and withdrawals from ATMs decrease, according to the bank’s France General Manager Jeremie Rosselli.
UK Finance, the trade association that represents the payments and finance industry in the U.K., said the country was going to raise the contactless pay limit from £15 ($17.43) to £45 ($52.29).
Mark Barnett, the divisional president of Mastercard in the U.K., said the move made sense. “As we all collectively navigate the current unsettling and uncertain times, providing consumers and businesses with a choice in how they wish to pay and get paid remains a constant for us,” he said in an emailed statement. “On this basis, we fully support the increased contactless limit here in the U.K. and across Europe. Cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their purchases both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a PIN.”