Frequently Asked Questions about Visa payWave

Get the answers you need about accepting Visa payWave.

What is Visa payWave?

Visa payWave is a payment feature that provides a way for customers to use their Visa cards or mobile device at the point of sale (POS). With Visa payWave, your customer simply waves his card or mobile device within an inch of the secure reader at checkout, instead of swiping it or handing it to a cashier. Every other aspect of the transaction is handled in the same way as with traditional purchase methods.

How will accepting Visa payWave benefit my business?

Enabling Visa payWave at the point of sale will help prepare your acceptance environment to support future advances in mobile-based payments. Your customers won’t need to fumble for cash and coins, which can increase checkout speed and reduce lines—both in-store and at drive-through windows. In addition, transactions under $25 at participating merchants1 do not require a signature, significantly speeding up the payment process. Merchants will also benefit as Visa payWave payments reduce the cost of cash management and slippage by decreasing the amount of cash handling.

How does Visa payWave work?

The Visa payWave application resides on a special chip embedded in the card or mobile device and transmits the payment information securely to the terminal reader by radio frequency. The cardholder’s account is charged without the customer having to swipe his card or let it out of his possession.

What are the liabilities associated with accepting Visa payWave payments?

Visa payWave offers the same security protection that you have today with traditional Visa payment products.

Is using Visa payWave secure for my customers?

Yes. Visa payWave utilizes multiple layers of security to protect transactions, including cryptography and secure network processing. Customers also benefit from Zero Liability2 for all unauthorized purchases made with their Visa payWave card or mobile device. Additionally, the card never leaves the customer’s hand during checkout, which provides added cardholder control and security at the point of sale.

Can card information be read without the customer knowing it?

Cards with Visa payWave need to be waved within an inch of the secure reader and correctly oriented in order to be read. Only the secure readers at authorized merchants can process the information on Visa cards with Visa payWave. In addition, checkout terminals can only process one payment transaction at a time, minimizing transaction errors.

Will I be able to deploy a single terminal in order to accept Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass, and American ExpressPay?

Yes. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express will all offer solutions that support the same standard for Radio Frequency (RF) cards—ISO 14443 A/B. This standard specifies the frequency, power, transmission, and anti-collision parameters for devices that accept contactless payments like Visa payWave. Thus, only one terminal will be required to accept such payment devices issued by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Note, however, that full specifications will differ across payment brands. You must procure peripheral readers/integrated terminals that are configured for all payment brands you want to accept. To learn more about Visa payWave specifications, please contact your Account Executive or your acquirer.

What changes will I need to make to my existing point-of-sale (POS) to integrate Visa payWave?

To deploy peripheral contactless readers (PCRs) that plug into your existing conventional POS terminals, the payment application in your existing terminal must be modified to interface with the PCR. This is the case as long as the terminal has sufficient memory to support the upgraded application and available ports to support the external reader. Upgrade specifics may vary, depending upon your infrastructure, but they are generally similar to current implementation updates to your terminal payment application. In addition, if your existing terminals are not already customer-activated, arrangements must be made for the new readers to be accessed by consumers directly, which may require some reconfiguration of your POS footprint. For additional details on specialty terminals, contact your Account Executive or acquirer.

1This does not apply to unattended environments where the clerk/cashier is not present.
2 Visa's Zero Liability policy covers U.S.-issued cards only. Does not apply to ATM transactions, certain commercial card transactions, PIN or other transactions not processed by Visa. You must notify your financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult your issuer. Identity Theft Assistance offers access to a toll-free number.