If contactless payments take off as expected and replace even a small percentage of cash payments worldwide, card transaction volumes are likely to increase dramatically. From a payments infrastructure point of view, this increase will need to be planned for appropriately, particularly in the U.S.
An increased volume of card payments has an immediate impact on payment processing in the States, as all card transactions are processed online at the time of the transaction. Payment card companies, retailers and payment processing organisations will need to prepare their payment processing systems in line with expected demand, so that a consistent service can still be provided.
By contrast, in other geographies, contactless transactions are generally processed offline and sent off to the acquirer in a batch at the end of the day during off-peak times. In these countries, the impact on the payment network capacity required will be less dramatic. Wherever contactless payments are deployed, the good news for acquirers and payment processors is that with the right software, the existing payment card security infrastructure can handle contactless payments.