NZ supermarkets expand contactless payments for extra COVID-19 safety

The payments industry in New Zealand is increasing its contactless limit for in-store spending from $80 to $200 as it continues its efforts to reduce physical contact with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

Contactless payment eliminates the need to enter a PIN code on card readers and would just need for shoppers to tap debit and credit cards on it.

The new payment limit will be rolled out progressively across supermarkets in the country in the coming days.

Supermarket giant Countdown announced it will be enforcing the expanded limit in all its stores starting today. 

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager for Health and Safety, said they have been working with the government, Payments New Zealand and the major banks to ensure Countdown could roll this added safety measure out to its customers as quickly as possible.

“The health and safety of our team and customers is our top priority,” Hannifin said. “While we’ve already increased our cleaning of high touch areas in stores such as the eftpos machines, having the ability to offer contactless payments means customers have a touchless way to pay for their groceries.”

Hannifin said temporarily increasing the limit to $200 will make life a lot easier and more hygienic. 

“The previous limit of $80 was fine for people picking up a few bits and pieces, but difficult for people who are trying not to shop too often, which is exactly what we want people to do,” she said.  

Retail NZ said increasing the limit will make it easier for customers to transact contactlessly while in store and help mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 through EFTPOS terminal keypads.

Greg Harford, Retain NZ chief executive, said they welcome this news and with major banks waiving some merchant fees for now, this will give retailers another reason to start using the technology.


“Customers increasingly want to pay contactlessly, so over time, Retail NZ expects to see fewer ‘No Paywave’ stickers in store,” Harford said.

Foodstuffs, the company that owns New World, Pak’n Save, Four Square and Raeward Fresh supermarkets, is going the extra mile by trialling a virtual check-in for shoppers that would help them avoid queues. 

The virtual check-in allows shoppers to text the supermarket they plan to shop in and wait outside or in their cars to wait for their turn to enter the store. The shoppers will get alerted once it’s their turn. 

Ruth Riviere, Mastercard country manager for New Zealand, said in the current ever-changing climate it is necessary for shoppers to be given the freedom, choice and peace of mind in the way they pay for their purchases.

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