ELIZABETH, N.J. — Wakefern Food Corp. here has become the second major food retailing enterprise to accept contactless credit cards from the major card associations as a payment vehicle.
Wakefern, a cooperative food wholesaler whose members operate 198 ShopRite stores and 30 PriceRite stores across five states, has begun processing contactless cards from MasterCard (dubbed PayPass), Visa (Contactless) and American Express (ExpressPay) “as a convenience to our customers and a way to speed up the checkout,” said Wakefern spokeswoman Karen Meleta.
As part of the rollout, the largest supermarket deployment of contactless technology to date, Wakefern has waived the signature requirement for orders of $25 or less, both for contactless and conventional magnetic-stripe credit cards.
Wakefern began installing VeriFone transaction terminals, which process contactless cards along with conventional cards, as a pilot last summer in five stores. Additional stores were added until all member stores were equipped with the terminals by the end of October. But the wholesaler waited for all of the kinks to be ironed out before officially launching the contactless service March 1.
Contactless credit cards carry an RFID chip that enables them to be recognized by an RFID-capable terminal when placed close to or tapping the terminal. Contactless payment has been rolled out by convenience store operators 7-Eleven and Sheetz, as well as McDonald's and CVS/pharmacy, among others. But the only other major supermarket retailer accepting contactless cards is Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It's growing more popular with consumers so it makes sense to use it at a supermarket as well,” said Meleta. She noted that credit card processing has evolved from taking an imprint of a card, to swiping a magnetic stripe to RFID-based contactless technology.