17 November 2021

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, Absa has witnessed a 231% increase in contactless card volumes (tap to pay) across debit and credit cards this year.

With Black Friday once again falling over the pandemic period, consumer and retailer behaviour has been significantly altered, signaling a shift in how people transact as one of South Africa’s busiest shopping periods approaches.

This year, overall in-store contactless card volumes for debit and credit cards surged by 231%, and transactional value rose by 180%.

“Following record increases in e-commerce levels in 2020, Absa has noted drastic payment shifts this year. New payment alternatives including QR Payments and digital tap to pay options such as Apple Pay, Garmin Pay and FitBit Pay are also making a mark,” said Cowyk Fox, Managing Executive: Everyday Banking, Absa Retail and Business Bank.

“Since the introduction of more digital contactless wallet options, customers are increasingly enrolling their Absa debit and credit cards to their compatible smart phone, wearable or tablet to enable simple and convenient tap to pay in-store transactions. As lockdown restrictions ease, more people are opting to make payments without carrying a physical card or touching a POS terminal.”

As one of the first South African banks to offer Apple Pay, more than 77% of Absa’s overall digital contactless wallet payment volumes were performed via Apple Pay since its launch in March 2021. “We are pleased with the uptake of these options – the first-mover advantage has meant that 73% of these customers used Apple Pay, with Apple Pay transactional values accounting for a significant 79% of all our digital contactless payment values in 2021,” added Fox.  

With the value of e-commerce transactions stabilising to a 35% increase, from last year’s unprecedented growth, along with the relaxing of lockdown restrictions and the ever-progressing vaccine rollout, Absa expects these trends to intensify over Black Friday, as suggested by the strong contactless payment growth.

“The growing trend of retailers offering specials throughout November, and not just on Black Friday, will once again be reflected in greater activity over the month, and less so on 26 November. This trend continues from last year, when the top spending day in 2020 was not Black Friday as in previous years, but rather the day before Lockdown level five commenced with over R1.2bn spent on the day (using Absa-issued cards). In fact, Black Friday spend in 2020 decreased by 31.2% year-on-year,” added Fox.

This year, to celebrate Absa’s wide range of digital payments, customers stand a chance to win their share of R1 million when making a digital payment on Black Friday. Customers also stand to win their share of R2 million when making an online shopping transaction on Cyber Monday using their Absa card.

Don’t fall victim to fraud this Black Friday

As Black Friday approaches, fraudsters will be in overdrive trying to scam unsuspecting consumers. Digital payments are a great way to perform secure payments – digital or mobile payment options are “tokenised”, which means that the typical information that a fraudster might use is not available. Card numbers are all encrypted into a token that is used “once-off” and cannot be replicated. Even if the merchant is compromised, customers’ card numbers are not stored anywhere and remain confidential.

In addition, over the past 18 months, Absa has noted an increase in social engineering, where fraudsters or syndicates trick customers into disclosing their personal and confidential information. With social engineering (i.e. a voice call or vishing), syndicates typically pretend to be from a bank and share personal information often causing customers to “let their guard down” and disclose confidential information. Absa will never ask customers to share their “keys to the safe” (including the online banking PIN, password, card CVV, PIN or one-time password) or to approve activities to prevent fraud. We advise customers to not disclose these to anybody, even if they present themselves as a bank representative. If unsure, terminate the call and call Absa’s Fraud Hotline on 0860 557 557.

In addition, one should never approve a mobile banking application request or any other transaction request if you’re not the one who is carrying out the transaction in question. Customers can rest assured that Absa’s systems are world-class, and we have a market-first digital fraud warranty for customers who bank using our mobile banking app – signaling our confidence in the security of our app as the safest way to bank.

For more information on Absa's digital payment options, search 'digital ways to pay' on our website.