Remember that ad where Richie McCaw races around the shops in a suit, buying wedding presents and tapping his card on an eftpos terminal?
Did you wonder what that was all about?
It's contactless payment, and more and more New Zealanders are using it. The two main types here are Mastercard's PayPass and Visa's payWave. Both allow customers to tap their card on a reader to pay for items under $80.
Last month, 400,000 New Zealanders spent $42 million this way on the Paymark network on 1.18 million transactions, from petrol at service stations to groceries at supermarkets, clothes at Glassons and movie tickets from Event cinemas. Paymark processes about 75 per cent of electronic transactions.
About 15,000 terminals around the country are set up to accept contactless cards and all new and reissued cards have the capability.
Paymark said 20,000 more users made contactless payments last month than in March.
A Visa survey showed half of those aged 25 to 34 have a contactless card and one in four uses the technology.
Late last year, the number of contactless payments processed by Visa in one month passed one million for the first time.
The providers said the cards were safer than swiping and similar to inserted chip cards.
Users must be within 4cm of the terminal and only one payment can be processed at a time.
Every transaction includes a unique code that changes each time.
Mastercard New Zealand country manager Peter Chisnall said: "No one necessarily wants to spend a lot of time paying for an item. That's not why they shop. Contactless aims to make that experience as smooth as possible."
Paymark's innovation manager John Pinkerton agreed, "The biggest feedback is that it saves time. When you're at the supermarket, even though you've just loaded 100 items on to the conveyor, saving five seconds at the end might not be a lot but people like the idea of just tapping and going."
The technology is a stepping stone to payments via mobile phone.
The technology that allows contactless cards to be accepted paves the way for customers waving their cellphones when they want to pay for a purchase.
This month, ASB is running a trial of the ASB PayTag, which allows credit and debit card payments to be made from a mobile phone.
A Visa payWave sticker containing an ASB contactless chip is attached to the customer's phone. This is then used in the same way as contactless cards.
The bank's manger of technology and innovation, Russell Jones, said it would mean there was no longer a need to carry a credit card.
"The fact that ASB PayTag can be used with any mobile phone means a wide range of customers can now turn their phone into a fully controllable, contactless payment device."
A commercial launch is planned for the third quarter of this year.
Pinkerton said a joint venture between Paymark and Vodafone, Telecom and 2Degrees, called TSM NZ, was due to go live later in the year to provide the technology on phones.
He said customers did not need to worry about the cards being less secure.
The cards' chips require that they can only be used contactlessly a certain number of times before they had to be inserted and a PIN used.
"That would point it out as a stolen card," he said.