Coronavirus: Woolworths, Coles launch new card machine rule to protect shoppers

Supermarket customers, including those at Coles and Woolworths, will now be able to pay for $200 worth of groceries without having to punch in their PIN number.

The Australian Payments Network, which regulates the payment industry, announced on Friday it has increased the PIN limit for contactless card payments from $100 to $200 in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Woolworths and Coles customers will now be able to pay for $200 worth of groceries without having to punch in their PIN number. Source: Getty

“Increasing the limit to $200 means that fewer people will need to touch the payment terminal when paying for purchases between $100 and $200,” AusPayNet said in a press release. 

“Similar increases have been implemented or are under consideration in other countries around the world in response to COVID-19.”

The new limit will be introduced at retailers next week and remain in place for three months, upon which it will be reviewed and extended if need be.

“Given the sheer numbers of cards, payment terminals and organisations involved, the new limit will be progressively introduced across certain cards and at certain retailers, with major supermarkets expected to be among the first,” AusPayNet said.

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Coles and Woolworths have urged shoppers for weeks to pay using the tap-and-go card feature in order to protect themselves.

Woolworths’ CEO Brad Banducci told ABC’s Radio Drive the Supermarket Taskforce, formed by the Department of Home Affairs, discussed the increased limit during a meeting last week, according to ITnews.com.au.

The Supermarket Taskforce, established last month, to resolve issues affecting supermarkets during the coronavirus crisis includes Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Metcash (IGA), grocery wholesalers and government departments.

Coles and Woolworths have urged shoppers for weeks to pay using the tap-and-go card feature in order to protect themselves. Source: Getty

“We’ve asked the government to work with us to see whether we can raise the limit to $250 actually, and if we did that, there would be 350,000 less physical interactions required between our customers and a PIN pad,” he said, calling it “another small measure that will help.”

When can I use the new $200 tap and go limit?

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia “by working with financial institutions to raise the tap and go limit, [the chain is] able to offer a contactless payment method for even more shopping trips.”

“We thank the Australian Payments Network for the speed in which they’ve been able to make these changes.”

All card schemes and digital wallets should support the revised limit at retailers by Tuesday.

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia “customers should check with their bank to confirm if their contactless card limit will be increased”.

All card schemes and digital wallets should support the revised limit at retailers by Tuesday. Source: Getty

“Cardholders will know whether they can use the new limit by following the PIN pad prompt, or can ask the retailer,” AusPayNet said.

“If the new limit has been introduced on your card, and at the retailer, you will be prompted to tap your card for purchases up to $200, and no PIN will be required. 

“If the new limit is not available on your card, or at a certain retailer, you will still be prompted to enter your PIN for purchases over $100.”

Is it safe?

Banks will monitor accounts as usual for fraud and alert customers of any unusual activities, AusPayNet said.

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