The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) intends to reduce the time its Caribbean customers spend in a cashier's line by enabling RBC point-of-sale devices with contactless payment acceptance – better known as tap and pay or tap to pay.
A release from the bank said tap and pay "is a secure method to purchase products or services via contactless-enabled payment cards, using Near Field Communication (NFC)... on RBC NFC-enabled point-of-sale devices."
The bank also said the service offers significant advantages to merchants and customers alike because of the convenience and speed it provides. Customers will be able to use contactless-enabled payment cards from any issuer.
Cards that are contactless-enabled display a symbol that looks like four increasing wavelengths expanding outwards to the right. Cards with that symbol, from all financial institutions, will be accepted.
In the May 23 release, RBC said it is the first bank in the Caribbean to offer this service to merchants across the region.
Roll out began back on April 23 in TT and the Bahamas and is expected to be completed in a couple of weeks. The other countries or territories in which it will be available are Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saba, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
RBC's head of Caribbean banking Rob Johnston said the move demonstrates the bank's commitment to better serving its clients by providing innovative and secure payment solutions.
"Our investment in contactless payment technology is another step forward to achieve our strategic priorities and bring the bank of the future to our clients. RBC is serious about innovation and this investment is just one of the ways we are enhancing our digital capabilities across the Caribbean."
Four people were recently charged with larceny after they deposited about 4,000 blank envelopes into RBC Royal Bank ATMs and then withdrew cash. The scheme takes advantage of a feature in the bank’s system which allows customers to withdraw money from cheques immediately after they make deposits.
RBC said "clients who engage in this activity, or who help fraudsters engage in this activity, will not be reimbursed by the bank."
The bank also told Business Day it is actively working with local authorities to provide information about the perpetrators, as well as anyone who assisted them.
"We expect individuals to be charged shortly and face the full extent of the legal process, in addition to reimbursing the bank for the stolen funds."
Business Day asked if there were concerns that tap and pay would make it easier for thieves to charge items to someone's account because a password isn't required at checkout.
Managing director of RBC Royal Bank TT, Darryl White said, "We have used this technology in other countries for years now and we have safeguards in place to protect against fraud.
"This new feature will make transactions easier and more convenient for consumers and merchants across the Caribbean. As always, if a customer loses their card or if they suspect their card has been stolen, they should report it immediately to the bank so we can issue a new one."
On the afternoon of May 27 and throughout most of the following day, RBC customers in TT were unable to use their debit cards at some ATMs and for point-of-sale purchases because the software that manages its banking system was down. White told reporters this was expected to be resolved before day's end on May 28. It is unknown if any tap and pay purchases were affected.
Regarding its investment in introducing tap and pay to the Caribbean, RBC declined to provide a figure to Business Day.
The bank did, however, say adding this service is part of its digital initiative to provide more convenience, security and flexibility to its clients.
"Much of the technology needed to implement contactless payment acceptance already exists – in cards and in point-of-sale devices. We just had to devote internal resources to make sure once we activated this service things went smoothly for our business clients who use RBC devices. Everything is going well and we’re on track to have this service fully implemented across the entire Caribbean in the next couple of weeks," White said.