What’s the difference between cashless and contactless payments?

In an increasingly digitized world, payment terms like “cashless” and “contactless” seem to be everywhere and are sometimes used interchangeably. Despite their apparent similarities, these words aren't identical. For instance, phrases like “touchless payments” or “wave and pay” have become synonymous with contactless transactions, adding another level of confusion.

If you're contemplating a cashless payment system for your event or establishment, it's crucial to understand the differences between these payment methods. Making an informed choice isn't just about streamlining transactions; it's about leveraging available opportunities.

By understanding these systems, you can harness valuable customer data, garner critical insights to boost sales, cut administrative expenses, and most importantly, elevate the overall user experience.

What are cashless payments?

Cashless transactions bypass the need for tangible currency, embracing various methods ranging from traditional credit and debit cards to innovative mobile payments, digital wallets, and bank transfers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) mechanisms, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) schemes, and even cryptocurrency are gaining traction in this area.

As the digital revolution moves into the next phase, cashless solutions are gaining momentum among both businesses and individual consumers. Some European nations are on the cusp of becoming entirely cashless, with others not trailing far behind. Notably, Spain has emerged as a European frontrunner, witnessing steady growth in cashless payment adoption.

What are contactless payments?

Contactless payments are methods that eliminate the need for physical contact between the merchant and buyer. Using NFC technology, options like tap-to-pay and EMV chip cards allow consumers to simply tap or wave their card near a terminal to finalize a purchase.

Cashless versus contactless: The main difference

The distinction between cashless and contactless payments lies in data ownership and insight.

Take for example a concert venue that has adopted a contactless system. Here, patrons use bank-issued cards or mobile payment solutions, like Apple Pay® and Google Pay™. However, with every transaction, the associated data flows to the bank, leaving the venue without insights into individual purchases.

By contrast, a cashless system grants the venue more knowledge and control. Patrons might use in-app mobile wallets, QR codes, or RFID wearables. Transactions remain within the venue’s ecosystem, capturing all related data.

Ultimately, this provides the venue with a precise understanding of all purchases. Such insights aid in inventory management, experience enhancement, and crafting targeted marketing campaigns. Additionally, this approach significantly reduces payment fraud.

Now that you understand the differences between cashless and contactless payments, you can decide which option is best for your business. From there, you’re positioned to implement a cashless POS or contactless POS that meets your business’s and customers’ needs.

Billfold is proud to be a leader in cashless and contactless payments for entertainment venues and event organizers. We make it easy to manage vendors and merchants, collect insights into your business transactions, and simplify the customer experience.

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Learn about Billfold which is A point-of-sale system that enables transactions to be made without using physical cash, for example using RFID.


Billfold's focus is cashless, however our solution can easily act as traditional point-of-sale system that uses cash, checks, phone pay or credit/debit cards to process transactions.


Billfold Connect is a market leading WIFI service, which gives the ability of devices to communicate and connect with each other wirelessly through a WiFi network to enable operations such as POS, Box Office, Production and other elements such as security, medical or media.


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Learn about Billfold which is A point-of-sale system that enables transactions to be made without using physical cash, for example using RFID.

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