The Kroger Co.’s QFC division is testing near-field communication (NFC) contactless payment at checkout in all of its 61 stores in Washington’s Puget Sound area and metropolitan Portland, Ore.
In the pilot, QFC customers pay for their purchases by placing their smartphone or contactless chip card near a PIN pad in the checkout lane, and payment data is transmitted to the terminal to process the transaction.
NFC-based contactless payment forms accepted include Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Fitbit Pay, as well as mobile banking apps and contactless chip cards.
“QFC is excited to pilot contactless payments powered by NFC technology, providing our customers with an additional way to pay for their fresh food and household essentials,” Chris Albi, president of Seattle-based QFC, said in a statement. “The contactless payment solution will help make life easier for many of our customers and provide the freedom of choice among various options, including cash, debit, credit and check.”
NFC technology employs a radio frequency field to transmit data between two devices — in this case, a mobile device and PIN pad — without physical contact. During the coronavirus crisis, retailers nationwide have seen an uptake in consumer use of contactless solutions as a safer, faster payment option.
According to Cincinnati-based Kroger, the QFC test supports the more than 30 policy and process changes that the company has implemented since the start of the COVID-19 crisis to foster social distancing and protect store associates, customers and communities.
“Kroger continues to invest in innovative technologies that advance the customer experience, including our payment systems,” stated Kathy Hanna, senior director of payments at Kroger. “Providing our customers with flexibility — whether that means having the option to choose between shopping in-store or online for groceries or how you pay for them — we are committed to personalizing their shopping trip.”
Several contact-free payment options are offered by Kroger, which sees the solutions as providing more frictionless experience for customers as well as safer alternatives during the pandemic.
Mobile payment solution Kroger Pay, which began rolling out early last year, is aimed at speeding checkout by securely combining a shopper’s payment and loyalty card information. Customers scan a single-use QR code at the payment terminal to quickly transmit their payment and loyalty card data. Meanwhile, Kroger’s improved Scan, Bag, Go technology lets customers use their smartphone to scan products using their mobile device, bag the items as they shop and then pay at checkout via the Kroger app.
Also, online grocery customers can place an order for pickup or delivery via Kroger.com or the Kroger mobile app. The retailer, too, also accepts SNAP/EBT payment for its grocery pickup service.