Contactless payments rise from pandemic lows, but mall foot traffic still weakened

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In addition to monitoring the spike in contactless payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Verizon Business has also cited the expected decrease in foot traffic at the largest malls in the U.S. through its mobile data metrics.

When comparing the first week of November 2019 to the first week of November 2020, the data "handoff" metrics, or those that indicate when a data session moves from one cell site to another as users walk or drive around, has fallen 20%.

However, compared to when pandemic restrictions were at their harshest in April 2020, people are moving around malls 59% more than they were, and there has been a 28% increase in use of mobile payments on e-commerce sites compared to last year, Verizon reported in its annual Retail Trends Report.

Verizon samples traffic across its broadband networks to 20 of the top 100 retailers in compiling the comparison data year-to-year. In addition, Verizon monitors trends at its own retail stores, where it has experienced firsthand the change in payment practices during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Beyond the traffic figures in our Retail Trends Report, in our own retail channels, we’ve seen a dramatic shift to touchless retail that is indicative of a larger trend in the industry as a whole," said Michele Dupre, vice president of sales vertical markets, retail and hospitality, for Verizon Business.

"Today, 86% of all Verizon retail payment transactions are touchless," Dupre added. "Additionally, Verizon has conducted nearly 800,000 curbside pickups since the beginning of the pandemic, indicating customer demand for immediate product access and touchless transaction options."

The Verizon network has seen an 82% increase in traffic compared to last year in early November for consumers making purchases at top retailers.

That increase is unfolding because of two key factors, Dupre noted.

"The first is that demand is picking up earlier from consumers who are enjoying the early holiday deals from retailers and who may expect delivery delays similar to those experienced at the beginning of the pandemic," she said. "The second is that this will likely be the heaviest online shopping season ever due to health safety concerns of in-person shopping, thus elevating the importance of online transactions and touchless payment options."

Verizon says it is working with retailers to deploy technology that will complement advanced payment methods for consumers.

Services include use of holograms for life-like digital customer service representatives for in-store communications and advertising; augmented reality for instant access to product information; virtual reality dressing rooms; shopper foot-traffic analysis; digital tracking of inventory; digital signage and updates; and real-time data processing.

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Contactless payments Mobile payments Coronavirus