How small businesses are adapting to the new low-contact reality 

Five ways small businesses are adapting to changing business environments with contact-free payment technology.
Peter Wagener
Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product
Oct 1, 2020

Some of the things that COVID-19 has changed so far:

  • Total number of daily meeting participants on Zoom (up 1,900% in March alone)
  • My access to snacking chocolate at the CardFlight NYC office (down 100%)
  • How small businesses accept payments (contactless payments are up 172% since early March, according to the most recent CardFlight Small Business Report)

The last point is what I’d like to focus on here: Small businesses have been under immense pressure since early March of this year, as many were forced to close for public safety reasons, then for financial reasons. 

Small businesses who primarily serve customers within their local community have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Businesses such as:

  • Businesses with physical storefronts, like the local bakery or coffee shop, where face-to-face interactions are a core part of the experience
  • On-site contractors, such as home repair professionals, where being physically on-site is required

We’re watching the trends in this sector, and it’s fascinating to see the tools these businesses use to survive and thrive. I might be a bit biased as the CTO of a payments technology company, but one thing that’s been essential to small businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is flexible payment technology. 

In fact, results from a small business survey we conducted earlier this year indicate that 72% of small businesses implemented contact-free payment options like phone ordering, online shopping, or contactless tap-to-pay in response to social distancing restrictions.

Mobile apps, web services accessed by a computer, and low-contact physical payment technologies are helping small businesses adapt to this new reality in ways that weren’t possible just five or ten years ago

Here are five ways small businesses are adapting to changing business environments with contact-free payment technology.

Payment Links 

Payment Links give small businesses a way to accept credit card payments without any direct contact with the merchant. Anyone with the merchant’s unique URL can send a payment with their credit card right from their computer or mobile phone — no contact required.

This means raising funds for the local bakery’s nonprofit donation day is as easy as texting a link to a group of friends, or posting that same link to Instagram. Payment Links also gives organizations like schools, churches, and nonprofits a no-fuss way to accept payments of any denomination. 

Payment Links is a feature now available to all SwipeSimple merchants. 


Even small businesses that previously accepted payments exclusively in-person now use invoices as one way to reduce contact between themselves and their customers. Invoices can even help support social distancing for services performed in-person. 

For instance, an on-site technical service provider like a swimming pool cleaner or roof repair specialist can perform their duties on-site from a safe distance, leave the premises, and send over the invoice via text or email when they are back in the office. Then the customer can send over the payment from the comfort of their home with their personal credit card.

Keyed entry 

For customers who are uncomfortable (or unable) to pay an invoice online, keyed entry gives merchants the opportunity to accept credit card payments over the phone.

This means small businesses can provide delivery, curbside pickup, or even socially distanced vet appointments without having the additional contact point of paying in-person. 

Saving a customer’s card on file 

The ability to save a customer’s card on file is another low-contact way small businesses can accept payments. All a merchant has to do is ask for permission once. The next time the same customer makes an order over the phone or stops by for a doctor’s appointment, the merchant can charge their stored card without any additional interaction.

Contactless tap-to-pay payment methods 

Most new debit cards, credit cards, and phones are enabled to support contactless payments. That means customers often don’t have to hand over a physical card to the cashier — which not only eliminates a touchpoint, it also means the merchant can create a greater physical barrier between the customer and the employee.

But perhaps most importantly — consumers rate contactless payment methods as offering a safer way to pay. According to the 2019 American Express Digital Payments Survey, “50% of consumers agree that contactless is safer for personal health than using cash or inserting or swiping a card.” 

To learn more about contactless payment technology, check out the webinar we hosted with PAX Technology earlier this year.


Our mission at CardFlight is to make the process of accepting payments easy and efficient for small businesses. Often that means designing and shipping products that are as versatile as they are simple. This takes focus, discipline, and empathy—all things that are built into the core values of our company and every step of the product development process. 

Additional resources