What is Visa Tap to Pay?

Visa tap to pay
(Image credit: Visa)

Contactless payments continue to surge past conventional cash. And consumers and businesses alike are becoming more and more accustomed to contactless technologies. In fact, nine in 10 eligible card transactions were carried out using a contactless payment card in 2020

9/10 eligible card transactions were carried out using a contactless payment card in 2020


But how does the technology work? And what are some of the most recent advances that small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors? 

We took a look at one of the most popular contactless technologies out there today, Visa Tap to Pay, and assessed how it stacks up against some of the best POS systems available for businesses. 

What is Visa Tap to Pay? 

Visa Tap to Pay is, at its simplest, a contactless method of payment that allows cardholders (customers) to ‘tap’ their card or payment-enabled mobile device on a contactless POS terminal to make transactions. 

For customers

It’s great for safety-conscious customers on-the-go as it’s quick and hassle-free and allows people to simply tap to pay instead of the old-fashioned way of swiping or inserting their card into a POS terminal.

For businesses

For businesses, it’s equally efficient. Not only does it allow you to quickly and easily accept payments, thereby improving your checkout experience and increasing customer satisfaction, but it can also support you with better accounting, more streamlined inventory management, and much, much more!

What’s more, Visa Tap to Pay offers an additional layer of security by protecting against fraud losses and unauthorised transactions, so it’s perfect for small and medium-sized businesses who need to protect themselves against losses associated with potentially criminal behaviours.

How does Visa Tap to Pay work? 

Visa Tap to Phone

(Image credit: Visa)

Visa Tap to Pay is based on contactless technology, which enables users to make payments through what is known as Near-Field Communication, or NFC.

Basically, contactless devices have a tiny antenna embedded into them that securely transmits payment instructions to and from a specially adapted terminal. 

If a Visa card has the contactless icon  on either the front or the back of the card, then customers can take advantage of Visa Tap to Pay anywhere they see the accompanying contactless symbol.

That means for small and medium-sized businesses looking to take payments, your payment terminals or POS systems also need to carry this symbol.

How do you use Visa Tap to Pay? 

Getty Images

Visa Tap to Pay allows you to be more flexible with customer payments, no matter where your business is.  (Image credit: Future)

For customers, all they need to do is hold their Visa card within 2 inches or 5 cm of a secure contactless terminal. The terminal will indicate if the payment has been successful and they can remove their card. Check out this short but handy video tutorial from Visa.

If customers don’t have a contactless card then they can still tap to pay by loading the payment details of their eligible payment card into a payment-enabled phone or wearable device. The same then goes for holding the device near to the terminal and awaiting a successful payment confirmation.

For businesses, Visa Tap to Pay works just as easily and it’s optional whether you hand the terminal to the customer or keep it in a fixed but easily accessible place in your business – this will very much depend on what sort of retail or hospitality business you’re running and whether or not you need the terminal to be mobile.

If you’re new to POS systems and contactless terminals, then getting started with Visa Tap to Pay is easy too. The best option is to speak with a Visa accredited partner. And don’t forget to check out the signage store on your country’s Visa website too. It’s got a host of great stickers, signs and other POS materials to ensure your customers know you accept Visa Tap to Pay!

What is the Visa Tap to Pay app? 

Phone shows app store application

Visa Tap to Pay turns your Android smartphone into a contactless terminal.  (Image credit: James Yarema on Unsplash)

The Visa Tap to Pay app, also known as the Tap to Phone app, was launched in 2020 and lets businesses quickly and securely accept contactless payments on their mobile (Android) devices without the need for additional hardware.

It transforms your Android smartphone or tablet into a contactless, or ‘tap to pay’ terminal and can be set up in just a few minutes by simply downloading an app and selecting your bank. 

It’s specifically designed for small and micro businesses who don’t want the hassle or costs involved in setting up a separate POS system, and with more and more consumers demanding contactless payments when they shop, it’s a low-cost but secure option for time-poor, small business owners, especially ones just getting started in retail and hospitality. 

Does Visa Tap to Pay have any limits? 

Woman taps payment card on card reader

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Limits on contactless payments vary by country so you should check regional guidelines where you are based. For example, the UK recently lifted the limit on contactless card payments, with customers now able to ‘tap to pay’ up to £100 per single transaction, and £300 for multiple transactions.

For the Visa Tap to Pay app, businesses will need an Android device to take advantage of the hardware-free app solution. Speak with your Visa partner to find out more or check out alternative POS systems if you don’t have an Android device or are looking for something more advanced for your business.

Visa Tap to Pay – an all-round game changer for customers and businesses alike 

Woman sat on porch using credit card and phone at sunset

Following the PCI DSS requirements helps instil customer confidence when they pay for your services.  (Image credit: Oscar Wong via Getty Images)

Visa Tap to Pay is a market-leading contactless solution that capitalises on today’s growing trend for quick and easy payment methods. 

For customers, it’s not only convenient but also offers peace of mind from a well-known, security-conscious brand that has true global coverage. It’s simple to use and easy to recognise regardless of where you are in the world.

For small and medium-sized businesses, it not only affords them a better customer experience but it also offers an even more complete solution with its Visa Tap to Pay app. This solution effectively eliminates the need for a hefty POS system and can be up and running in just a few minutes, something that is truly transformational for retail and hospitality businesses.

On balance, it’s an industry game changer and an exciting one to watch for the future!

 Looking for an alternative to Visa Tap to Pay? We've rounded up the best POS systems for your business and the best mobile payment apps for contactless payments

You might also like our news stories on how Visa’s Tap to Phone service wants to transform payment processing for small businesses and Visa brings Tap to Phone contactless payment service to US.

Emma is an experienced technology writer covering everything from Point of Sale (POS) systems to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone systems. As well as Techradar, she has written for IT Builder, Soldo, and CArd Payment Guru.