SYDNEY, Australia – In a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease from payment terminals, two of the biggest supermarkets in Australia will increase their dollar limits for pin-free contactless transactions.
Coles and Woolworths, two supermarket giants in the country, announced their plans to increase their contactless transaction limits without PINs. From the previous $100 limit, it will now increase to $200 to lessen the need to use payment terminal keypads that may cause the spread of the virus.
The official statement about lifting the dollar limits for contactless transactions from the two supermarkets said that it would take effect by Friday morning. However, some supermarkets are already applying the raise.
Brad Banducci, the chief executive of Woolworths, has been speaking in the public openly about the need to raise the dollar limit for contactless payments.
Customers who are using Apple Pay for their transactions, which only requires a tap through a glass, will also benefit from the raised contactless limit. Moreover, EFTPOS transactions that link to Apple Pay are also PIN free and can take advantage of the higher $200 limit. This kind of service is an offer from huge banks like Suncorp and ANZ, as well as a host of other smaller banks.
The classic CBA Keycard and other EFTPOS cards issued by banks that only uses tap will also work in this new scheme.
However, it remains unclear how the treatments towards other merchants will be right now.
Woolworths and Coles are two of the largest supermarkets in the country considered as strategic merchants when it comes to the fees for payment card interchanges. It is primarily because of the number of transactions that these supermarkets can deliver. With this, Woolworths and Coles get a much lesser fee for card interchanges, the propelled money between banks that issued the cards.
One major problem is that while some of the most prominent merchants in Australia will do their best when it comes to hygiene, it can still steer customers to retailers with the highest market power when smaller supermarkets remain out of the loop.
Another issue with the push for Australian people to start using contactless transactions is that it can massively impact credit card giants. There will be a huge revenue windfall for the likes of Visa and Mastercard if that happens, mainly because most of the tap-and-go and debit based transactions are riding on their exclusive rails.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has been wanting to allow shopkeepers to choose transactions to ride on. It is in place of the card schemes and the banks that are doing so right now. With this, the RBA tried pushing for banks to roll out additional regulatory reforms, which they call merchant choice routing or the least cost routing.
With the review of present regulation on payment systems by the RBA on hold until 2021 and the push for consumers to use contactless transactions overall, there is confusion. The market is asking if it’s the best time to get more immediate regulatory actions.
With the continuous spread of the coronavirus diseases, a lot of business sectors in the country are profoundly affected. There’s an increasing number of Australians who are losing their jobs and other sources of income as COVID-19 ravages the country’s economy.
However, some companies are still offering a much-needed reprieve for some, including Woolworths and Coles.
Aside from their effort to push contactless transactions in their stores to halt the spread of the deadly virus, these two supermarket giants are also offering a lifeline for currently unemployed Australians.
Over the weeks, most aisles in supermarkets all over Australia were bare, sparking outrage and disagreements between panicked shoppers and exhausted workers. There have been countless stories about buyers and employees getting in heated arguments in supermarkets.
Since then, many retailers started adopting zero-tolerance over shopper’s bad behaviour towards their workers. Signs began appearing on supermarkets, including Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, and IGA, warning shoppers to observe respect when dealing with their staff. It was earlier this month when a spokesperson from Woolworth said that the safety of their team and workers remains at the top of their priority, and they will not tolerate any violent or abusive behaviour from shoppers.
With supermarkets stripped bare and with the increasing demand of Australian shoppers, retailers are looking to open more jobs.
Today, Coles also announced that they would open 5,000 new jobs for Australians. That will be on top of the 7,000 employees recruited by the merchant during the past fortnight. With the latest drive for recruitments in the company, it will bring Coles’ total number of new workers to around 12,000 in just a few short weeks.
The hiring of thousands of new workers came after the continued panic-buying of Australians, leaving most aisles in supermarkets empty.
A Coles spokesperson said during an interview, they have been extra busy as of late, and the demand for additional employees in their stores is enormous.
Coles has already offered thousands of jobs all over the country. By state, the merchant has 2000 jobs opened in New South Wales, 1800 in Queensland, 1700 in Victoria, 700 in Western Australia, 100 jobs each in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and another 90 offered in the ACT.
To deal with the massive demand that shoppers put on Woolworths, the supermarket giant also created over 20,000 new positions. The jobs from the merchant primarily target those who were working in industries directly hit by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, including retail assistants, flight attendants, and bar staff.
Among the opened jobs at Woolworths are shelf stackers, checkout assistants, and workers in their distribution centers. The new employment offers from the supermarket giant include both short-term contract and casual jobs over the supply chain, e-commerce, and Woolworths supermarkets across the country.
Among other companies that are currently in the hiring peak right now include Domino’s, which is hunting for an additional 2000 employees, Centrelink which is looking for 5000 more workers, and Telstra with 1000 open positions ready for Australians.
There is also a massive need for more workers in the health industry, including nurses, social workers, counsellors, and aged care workers. There is also an increase in the hiring of tutors and nannies to help with education and home care.