Credit Card Networks Boost Contactless Transaction Limits

Jun 16, 2020

Canadian merchant accounts benefit as the “tap limit” increase makes more transactions “touch free”. 

Canada is renowned as being one of the most “cashless societies” in the world today. According to a 2017 study conducted by, Canada was cited as the number one most cashless country with every person living there owning more than 2 credit cards. It was also found that over 57 per cent of all transactions were cashless.

And with both Visa and Mastercard making the announcement that they will be increasing the contactless transaction limit from the current C$100 to C$250, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the acceptance of contactless payments is only expected to grow. 

Country manager and president of Visa Canada, Stacey Madge, added:

“Canada overall, is a very low cash-usage country. Of about a trillion dollars in personal consumer expenditures, less than five per cent of that is cash.”

Visa also released on their Canadian website that about 60 per cent of all in-person Visa transactions are contactless. Plus, when the contactless technology is paired with any mobile phone or “wearable device”, there is added security. With the use of tokenization, sensitive customer information remains safe and uncompromised. Also, contactless cards come with EMV® Chip security “as contact chips”. Every transaction has a one-time code to block stolen information from becoming counterfeit cards. 

Safer Ways To Pay

The benefit of contactless payments is that it allows customers to physically tap a credit or debit card onto a point of sale machine (POS) and not have to type in a PIN code or to provide a signature. 

As government officials are urging the public to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mastercard released the announcement of increasing its contactless transaction limit to transition into much safer measures to pay for transactions that don’t require customers to physically touch PIN pads. Mastercard’s limit increase was made effective immediately. Visa has also followed suit, however, they did not reveal when the increase will become effective as it is currently working out the details with its industry partners. 

Sasha Krstic, president of MasterCard Canada said in a statement,

“With safety and social distancing top of mind for all Canadians, today’s announcement is one way we’re helping cardholders to shop easily, securely and with more peace of mind during this difficult time,”

During the month of March, both retailers and businesses would no longer accept cash at the checkout counter in order to protect employees from COVID-19 exposure. However, the Bank of Canada issued an announcement, strongly appealing all retailers to not deny Canadians the ability to pay with cash so that seniors and low-income households will have the opportunity to purchase what they need. 

Outbreak Brings Change

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to implement a radical change in everyday life, card networks such as Visa and Mastercard are working collaboratively with their industry partners to ensure customers and businesses benefit from a more secure, quicker, and simpler way to pay. 

Canada’s neighbor to the south, the U.S., doesn’t seem to be heading towards the cashless society trend, at least, not anytime soon, according to University of California anthropologist, Bill Mauer. In order for this to happen there has to be, according to Mauer, “lower levels of economic inequality, more social cohesion, and a greater trust in government and civic institutions – such as Sweden and Canada.”

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Having a merchant account allows an account holder to take advantage of merchant cash advances. When a merchant is approved for an advance, the business agrees to receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future credit card sales.

Pricing varies depending on the merchant’s industry, past credit card processing history, the type of business seeking the account, average ticket sales, and average transaction volumes.

Yes, EMB works with merchants who are building their credit, as well as those who have poor credit. EMB also approves merchants that have no credit card processing history and businesses that have lost their merchant accounts due to high chargebacks.

Several factors influence a merchant’s risk level. Though only one factor likely will not get a merchant classified as high risk, a combination of these may: business size, location, and industry, credit score, credit card processing history, a industry’s reputation for excessive chargebacks, a prior history of high chargeback ratios, and whether a merchant exclusively sells online.

Virtual terminals are stationed on a merchant’s website, making it easy for customers to make a payment or purchase online. Merchants or a payment processor can easily set up virtual terminals, so online businesses can accept credit and debit card and e-check transactions.

A merchant account is a business account with an acquiring bank. Without this business account, which actually works more like a line of credit, a merchant cannot accept and process credit and debit card transactions. Businesses need a merchant account to accept major credit cards via a static point-of-sale terminal, mobile card reader, or through a virtual payment gateway.

After filling out EMB’s simple online application and submitting any necessary, requested documents, many merchants get approved within 24 and 48 hours.

EMB specializes in working with high-risk merchants. EMB works with many merchants, including but not limited to businesses in these industries: gambling and gaming, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, vaping and e-cigarettes, electronics, tech support, travel, high-end furniture, weight loss programs, calling cards, e-books and software, and telecommunications.

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