The share of contactless electronic payments doubled in the early months of the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium from 16% of all transactions in February to 35% in June, according to finance minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD).
De Croo revealed the evolution of the payment method in a parliamentary answer to Barbara Pas, fraction leader of Vlaams Belang.
With the arrival of the epidemic, customers were asked to make payments using electronic means wherever possible, to save shop staff from handling cash.
However even people accustomed to using debit cards for even small payments were wary of dealing with a keypad which would have been used by many others before them, and which may or may not have been regularly disinfected.
For that reason, in April Febelfin, the banking sector federation, increased the limit for payments without using a pincode from €25 to €50 for a single transaction, with a daily limit of €100. Any other transactions made in a day would require a pincode.
“That is a positive development, but Belgium is still far behind neighbouring countries,” Pas said. “In the Netherlands, the share of contactless payments is already 81 percent,” she said.
And she called on Febelfin to keep the new higher limit after the coronavirus crisis is over.
“We learn from Febelfin that no fraud cases have been reported by consumers during this period,” she said. “The scenario of criminals walking past a consumer’s handbag with a payment terminal in order to initiate a contactless card transaction has never occurred. With that in mind, there is no reason to reduce the limit.”