Mobile contactless payments could get a boost in the coming months, courtesy of The Kroger Co. and its QFC division.
The food retailer said it had launched a test across its QFC grocery division that enables shoppers to complete purchases with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, mobile banking apps and contactless chip cards.
"QFC is excited to pilot contactless payments powered by NFC technology, providing our customers with an additional way to pay for their fresh food and household essentials," said Chris Albi, president of Bellevue, Washington-based QFC. "The contactless payment solution will help make life easier for many of our customers and provide the freedom of choice among various options, including cash, debit, credit and check."
The technical foundation for the test involves near-field communication, or NFC, which has been a relatively mainstream part of consumer life in parts of Europe and Asia for more than a decade, but which is just starting to make a significant splash in the U.S. retail market. NFC relies on a radio frequency to transmit data between payment terminals and mobile devices such as smartphones, smart watches and even wearables.
The pandemic has highlighted the efficiency of no-touch payments, already on the rise before the coronavirus outbreak made shoppers and food retail workers focus on the health risks of human contact via transactions. The majority of U.S. retailers — 58% — take contactless cards that consumers either wave or tap at payment terminals, according to a new study from the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research. That’s up from 40% last year. Mobile wallets are also finding more popularity, with 56% of merchants accepting that smartphone payment method, up from 44% last year.
"Kroger continues to invest in innovative technologies that advance the customer experience, including our payment systems," said Kathy Hanna, Kroger's senior director of payments. "Providing our customers with flexibility – whether that means having the option to choose between shopping in-store or online for groceries, or how you pay for them – we are committed to personalizing their shopping trip."
Kroger also offers the following contactless payment options:
- Kroger Pay: a touchless mobile payment solution that securely combines a customer's payment and loyalty card information to create a faster checkout experience. Customers are provided a single-use QR code to scan at the terminal to quickly communicate their payment and loyalty card information.
- Scan, Bag, Go: the improved Scan, Bag, Go technology allows customers to scan their groceries using a mobile device, bag their own products and pay via the Kroger app.
- Pickup and Delivery: customers can place a grocery order via Kroger.com or the Kroger mobile app for delivery or free pickup.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,757 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.