How the New Absa Bank Contactless Tap Feature Works

Absa Bank Uganda has recently unveiled the contactless tap functionality on the bank’s vertical Visa debit cards and POS machines. Once enabled, customers with the new “Vertical Debit Card” only need to tap the ATM card onto a contactless-enabled point-of-sale terminal to initiate an immediate payment. 

This is a first-to-market innovation for Uganda and a testament to the revolutionary shift in the way that technology is changing the nature of banking on a global scale. It’s in line with a simultaneous surge in the use of the internet and mobile payment options on the continent with banks and various merchants preferring the use of cashless alternatives.

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A recent Mastercard survey in the Middle East and Africa shows that more than 70% of respondents were by March 2020 using some form of contactless payment.

How to Enable the Contactless Functionality on Your Card

As a customer, you might need to know if your ATM card is able to automatically perform the contactless transactions without having to call the bank to help set it up for you. Unfortunately, it can’t work and according to Absa Bank Uganda, there are two ways you can get to enable the contactless tap feature on your card; either by using an Absa ATM or from an Absa payment device or POS. Here is what you need to do next to enable the contactless feature;

  1. Using an Absa ATM – Once the card has been used at an Absa ATM to perform a financial transaction, the customer will have to perform up to two more chip-and-PIN (swipe) transactions to enable the card for contactless payments.
  2. Using an Absa payment device or point-of-sale (POS) machine – Once the card has been inserted into an Absa payment device and the PIN has been entered, the customer will have to perform up to two more chip-and-PIN (swipe) transactions to enable the card for contactless payments.
Michael Segwaya, Absa CFO demonstrates the use of the contactless feature on the Absa Vertical Debit Card
Michael Segwaya, Absa’s Chief Finance Officer and Executive Director demonstrates the use of the contactless feature on the Absa Vertical Debit Card

What Technology Powers the Contactless Tap Features?

The new feature on the cards uses a Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to allow payments from a contactless-enabled card on a contactless supported payment terminal. The technology encrypts each transaction and ensures that account and payment information remain secure.

We have occasionally written about the application of NFC technology and digested how the tap and go technology really works. 

What Does This Mean to You as a Customer?

Due to health and safety concerns (the Coronavirus, more specifically), the contactless feature is a lot more hygienic as only the customer needs to touch the card, thus reducing the chances of viral infection from contact with infected hands and objects.

There are reduced chances for fraud as the card never leaves the customer’s hand and the merchant must first initiate the transaction for a payment to be processed. The card must be 2mm away from the terminal and limited to only 4 transactions a day.

The feature can be used by Absa Bank Uganda customers with contactless-enabled Vertical Debit Cards at supermarkets, salons, beauty shops, fuel stations, boutiques, restaurants, pharmacies or any other merchant with an Absa point-of-sale machine.