If there’s anything the current Covid-19 pandemic has made us aware of it’s how often we are in contact with things other people have touched, like doors, sinks, money or food. No doubt we will see a surge of touchless products from startups and enterprise alike addressing our new reality in the months ahead:
Manual revolving doors, ubiquitous in cities like New York, are rare in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing, where automatic doors are the norm. Most public restrooms in Asia’s big cities have automated faucets and soap dispensers, and are equipped with self-flushing toilets. One advantage these cities have is that most of their malls and office towers were built within the past two decades, meaning they could incorporate modern technology from the outset.
Another big gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is the way U.S. consumers pay for things. “We are significantly behind most of the world,” said Jordan McKee, research director at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. “If you look at countries like Canada, the U.K., Australia, contactless [technology] is a way of life there.”
In Australia, 90% of retail transactions of less than $25 are completed through contactless transactions, such as tap-to-pay credit cards or mobile devices. In contrast, just 2% of in-store transactions in the U.S. were contactless in the last year, said McKee.