Coronavirus prompts Mastercard to raise Canadian contactless limit

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Mastercard has increased the contactless payment limit to CA$250 across Canada to provide consumers with a safer way to pay during the coronavirus pandemic.

This move will allow cardholders to make contactless payments of up to CA$250 without the need to provide additional cardholder verification such as a PIN code.

The current transaction limit is CA$100 before an additional cardholder verification method such as a PIN is required, according to Sandra Benjamin, vice president of communications at Mastercard Canada, making the new limit more than double the existing amount. Mastercard reported that it is working with industry partners such as banks and merchants to deploy this new higher transaction limit.

Once implemented Mastercard predicts the new limit will further drive contactless adoption within Canada, which already represents the majority of Mastercard transactions, and gives consumers a safer means of conducting in-store purchases.

“With safety and social distancing top of mind for all Canadians, today’s announcement is one way we’re helping cardholders to shop easily, securely and with more peace of mind during this difficult time,” Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard in Canada, said in a press release.

The sensitivity around social distancing and handling frequently touched surfaces and devices such payment terminals has taken on a new significance as the number of people infected by the coronavirus reaches the 1 million level globally since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mastercard has also increased the contactless payment limit across 29 countries in Europe, in some cases by almost double the existing amount. In 13 eurozone countries most were raised to a contactless limit of to €50. In the U.K. Mastercard has raised the contactless transaction limit from £30 to £45 following a similar move made by Barclaycard earlier in the week.

These moves represent a coordinated effort by Mastercard to raise contactless payment limits around the world to address demands by health officials to increase social distancing and minimize interactions between people and frequently touched devices.

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