The limit for contactless eftpos payments is being temporarily raised from $80 to $200 from today, says industry governance body PaymentsNZ - albeit with two banks not fully on board.

The measure will be introduced over the next few days and weeks.

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PaymentsNZ chief executive Steve Wiggins says the temporary measure will remain in place "for as long as necessary".


The rise is supported by all the major banks plus Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Union Pay.

"The tinfoil hat brigade will go nuts. But it's great for the rest of New Zealand who are naturally anxious about social distancing and touching," says former Paymark boss Mark Rushworth.

But Wiggins says although all banks support the raise to $200, ASB and TSB cannot do it for existing card-holders immediately because of "technology restraints".

But the two banks will offer it to new cards issued from today.

And their customers who use Apple Pay or Google Pay (which use finger or face recognition on a phone as the verifier), ASB Mobile Pay or Fitbit or Garmin pay will get their limit raised to $200 immediately.

"As a retailer with a contactless enabled terminal you will not have to do anything additional as this change will be rolled out automatically over the coming days and weeks," says Wiggins. "The limit increase will be applied to your terminal when it logs on."

Payment network operator Paymark also introduced "online eftpos" this week. If a retailer supports the measure, a customer can order online and pay instore in a click-and-collect model for small retailers.

A month ago, a group of entrepreneurs, including Mark Rushworth, Lance Wiggs and Dean Hall, took to social media to call for Paywave fees to be removed during the pandemic so all retailers could enable contactless credit card payments, plus Apple Pay and Google Pay from a phone or watch.

And HealthSoft executive director Ross Peat told the Herald he would like the Paywave limit (before you have to enter a PIN) raised from $80 to $200.


ANZ, BNZ, ASB and Kiwibank duly removed Paywave fees until the end of June and Westpac waived them for six months.

But although support for contactless payments broadened, shoppers still came up against the $80 limit, meaning having to touch a keypad touched by hundreds of others the same day - or use a stabber manoeuvre that's shortening the life of eftpos machines around the nation, or use the corner of the card, which tends to bend and ruin it after a while.

From today, that should start to change.

The voluntary industry moves take the pressure off Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi, who had put the sector under notice over the interchange fees that have inhibited contactless payment take-up and led to the ubiquitous tatty "no paywave" stickers on eftpos terminals. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

But why did it take until half-way through the lockdown?

Wiggins says: "Our role was to bring the industry together to facilitate the limit increase, and there's been overwhelming support and commitment from across the industry to get this done as soon as possible.

There have been a total of 37,000 reports of breaches, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said. Eight police staff had been spat at - which potentially constituted a charge of infecting with disease, carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

"The continuing smooth operation of the payment system was paramount, and for that reason we've had to take time to co-ordinate and ensure the systems across a number of terminal providers, retailers, banks and card providers can support the limit increase.

"We are delivering an incredibly difficult and complex change in just two weeks. The timing is similar with Australia."

One of those who pushed for change, former Paymark boss Mark Rushworth, welcomed today's news.

"The tinfoil hat brigade will go nuts," he told the Herald, "But it's great for the rest of New Zealand who are naturally anxious about social distancing and touching."

He added, "It's good rapid cooperation across the payment industry. This would normally this would take 12 or more months to agree and implement."