Little-known fact: NFC payments already work in India. On most card machines. That means that Apple Pay already works in India, and cards with the NFC icon can already be used on most card payment terminals in India. In my experience, all merchants, from major supermarkets in New Delhi to fruit stores in Coimbatore have Point-of-sale machines that support NFC payments. But there is just one little problem: merchants usually don’t know how to operate them, and customers usually don’t have an NFC-enabled payment option. So chip and PIN it usually is.
“Around 50k POS terminals have been enabled for NFC acceptance across [our] merchant network,” a spokesperson for Pine Labs, one of India’s largest deployers of POS machines told MediaNama. For context, that’s one-fourth of the number of ATMs in India. And that’s just one deployer. Ingenico, another payments company, told MediaNama that over half of the POS machines it has ever sold are NFC-enabled. As of last October, Pine was seeing a 10% month-on-month increase in NFC payments, even as the overall number of these payments was low.
What you need for NFC payments
You need either i) a payment app like Samsung Pay or ICICI Pockets, and a phone that supports NFC payments, or ii) a credit or debit card that supports NFC. If your card is new, chances are your card supports NFC. Just look out for the NFC icon on the back.
If you don’t have an NFC-enabled card, you can search Google for “[bank name] Visa PayWave OR MasterCard Tap-and-Go” to see if your bank is currently issuing those cards. You can call in for a replacement if they do. And if that’s too bothersome, you can usually use Samsung Pay on a supported phone. Scroll down to the FAQ on this page for a list of payment cards that Samsung Pay works with. If you have ICICI Pockets on an Android phone, you can set up a digital payment card that will work in a real-life payment terminal. You can also use HDFC Payzapp, which reportedly supports NFC.
How to use NFC in-store
Cashiers generally don’t know how to use NFC payments. So instead of telling them that you’re using Samsung Pay or handing them your card, ask for the POS machine. In the machine, select the ‘Sale’ option, which is usually the first option. If ‘Transact’ is the topmost option, select ‘Online Sale’, which should be the second option. If you’re in a store where the card machine only works with the cashier’s billing software — like in a department store checkout counter — ask them to push a payment request to the machine.
You should see an NFC icon, which looks like this:
If you’re using Samsung Pay, wave your phone on top of the card terminal. It should tell you to “Remove Card” immediately after. If you’re using a card, do the same thing. That’s it. Payment completed. If your transaction value is less than ₹2000, you don’t even need to enter your PIN. The ₹2000 limit is an RBI norm, and limits your loss should you lose your card. And apps like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay require biometric authentication before they let you pay.
Note for Samsung Pay users
You’re probably used to waving your phone before punching in the amount on POS machines. This works because Samsung Pay imitates magnetic swipe cards, which other payment apps can’t do. This is just as secure as NFC, but you usually need to punch in your PIN. If you follow the above steps and pay with NFC after punching in the amount in the POS machine, you won’t need to punch in your PIN. It also helps that you’ll usually blow the cashier away.