By CBS3 Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way Americans interact with their favorite shops, restaurants and small businesses. In the current environment, cashless or contactless transactions are favored for their perceived safety and ease of use.

In a global study done by MasterCard in February and March, contactless payments grew 40% over the first quarter of the year with 79 percent of respondents to the study saying that they were using contactless payments “citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers.”

In a study released by the National Retail Federation in August, it was found that no-touch payments increased 69 percent since January among retailers surveyed. And, of those who had implemented contactless payments, 94 percent expected that increase to continue over the coming 18 months.

“Contactless payment was growing in popularity even before the pandemic, but it’s clear that now, more than ever, consumers are eager to embrace any options that align with social distancing guidance,” said Anna Barker, a personal finance expert and founder of LogicalDollar to HuffingtonPost in July.

So, for small businesses, it would appears that contactless payments are not only here for the current time frame, but moving into the future as well. As a small business owner, the vast variety of options for contactless payments can leave your head spinning.

For those small business owners looking for ways to institute these contactless payments, there are a wide variety of different companies and options that will allow you to provide your customers the safety and security of paying for your products or services without having to get too up close and personal.

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay are three mobile wallet apps that allow users to pay for purchases at the register via the same Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that is used by most major credit/debit card companies today.

Your small business likely already has an NFC-enabled payment terminal as Berg Insight noted in 2018 that 88% of all point of sale (POS) terminals shipped had NFC capability. If you do not have an NFC capable POS system, then there are a wide variety of different companies providing options for your business to accept these transactions.

Companies like Square, Shopify, PayPal, PayAnywhere and QuickBooks all offer different forms of contactless and thereby, cashless transactions. But, make sure to look and see what the processing fees are for these transactions in order to understand the potential adjustment in price that may be necessary for your products or services.

Aside from NFC accepted payments, there is also the option of using QR codes. A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a barcode that can be used to direct customers to a website or app when scanned with the camera or app on their mobile device. Once there, the customer can enter the amount owed and send the payment.

Like NFC, there are a variety of different companies in the field that facilitate the setup of QR codes for retailers. Shift4 Payments, PayPal, Venmo and iWallet all offer services to businesses looking for ways to process payments via QR code.

The pandemic has changed many things about the American way of life over the course of the last eight months. One of the areas in which the change appears it could be lasting is in the desire to use contactless payments at their favorite local shops and businesses.