Best Practices

3 Best Contactless Payments to Offer at Your Law Firm

Catherine Brock
Catherine Brock
June 21, 2024

According to technology consultant Juniper Research, more than $10 trillion will change hands globally via contactless payments by 2027. In the same year, the company also expects 99% of smartphones to be equipped for contactless payments, which will drive 8.4 billion mobile transactions in the U.S. alone.

The factors behind those predictions include consumers' growing preference for convenient payments and an ongoing shift to a cashless economy. These trends will also affect how clients view your law firm. Staying current with payment methods positions the firm as modern and client-friendly.

Let's explore the benefits of contactless payments, as well as how law firms and attorneys can implement these types of payment methods.

What Are Contactless Payments?

A contactless payment is a secure, card-based distribution of funds that requires limited physical interaction. The directive to send the payment usually involves tapping or waving a card or wallet-enabled device near a contactless card reader. Swiping or inserting the card into a machine is not part of the process, nor is signing a charge slip or typing a PIN.

Credit cards and debit cards with chips in them support contactless payments, as do smartphones and smart watches equipped with digital or mobile wallets. The technology behind the transmission of data is near-field communication (NFC). NFC is a type of radio-frequency identification (RFID) designed to transmit data securely.

Smartphones and smart watches use their built-in computing power to facilitate these transactions. Payment cards rely on their embedded chip. The chip, called an EMV chip, is a tiny microprocessor that stores and manages data.

Importantly, NFC contactless payments demand proximity. The card, smartphone, or watch must be within two to four inches of the accepting payment device. This proximity requirement minimizes accidental payments.

3 Best Contactless Payment Options for Law Firms and Attorneys

With an enabled card reader or payment device, your law firm can accept contactless payments from chip cards and app-based wallets. Alternatively, your firm can use QR codes to implement contactless payments without a payment device.

1. Chip Cards

Cards with EMV chips support "tap-to-pay" functionality. First, the law firm sends the transaction data to the NFC-enabled payment device. The client then taps a chip card on or near the payment device. The chip card and payment device exchange data securely to process the payment.

2. App-Based Wallets

App-based wallets are applications that store payment information, including credit card numbers. These are also called digital wallets or mobile wallets. Apple Pay, and Google Wallet are examples.

Before making payments, clients must configure their smartphone for NFC contactless payments. They must also add their payment cards to a digital wallet. From there, the payment process is similar to using a chip card. If the wallet supports contactless payments, the client holds the smartphone close to an NFC payment device to transfer the agreed amount.

3. QR Codes

A QR code is a specialized barcode image with an embedded link. The image can be read by most smartphone cameras. When a client points the phone's camera at the barcode, the camera detects the link, displays it to the user, and requests a tap to open the URL in the phone's browser.

Law firms can share a QR code with clients using, for example, a sign on the reception desk or a printed invoice. The client follows the link to open the payment page with the smartphone. The client can then privately input card or bank account information to send a payment.

Physically sharing the card or reading card numbers aloud is not part of the QR payment process.

Contactless Payment Security Measures

Regarding the safe handling of sensitive client data, contactless payment security is robust—and contactless payments are actually safer than traditional card payments. Below are four reasons why.

  1. Contactless payments can be made offline. This means there's no scenario in which a team member writes down a card number for processing later.
  2. Contactless payments are made without cards changing hands. There is no chance for an unethical employee to memorize card data and later pair it with the client's zip code to make unauthorized purchases.
  3. Contactless payments use tokenization. Tokenization transmits one-time codes rather than actual cardholder data. The token cannot be used again and is therefore worthless to hackers.
  4. Smartphone payments require the cardholder to unlock the phone, which usually requires at least a passcode if not a biometric authentication like Face ID.

Can Lawyers Accept Contactless Payments?

Traditional and contactless card payments must be handled correctly to avoid ethical and compliance issues. Firms already using a compliant payment solution for traditional card payments can safely implement contactless payments on the same platform.

Timing of Contactless Payment Deposits

Offline contactless payments can take longer to process and deposit than traditional payments. An offline transaction occurs when the payment is taken without first obtaining a bank authorization.

As the firm collecting the payment, you can avoid lengthy settlements by processing payments immediately whenever possible. Immediate processing ensures your contactless payments follow the same settlement timeline as any other card payment.

Deposit Account for Contactless Payments

Generally, contactless payments deposit to the account configured to receive funds from the payment device. If your firm works on retainer, however, the answer is more complicated. You have the extra steps of keeping unearned client funds whole and separate from the firm's operating funds. For that reason, the best contactless payment options for lawyers are those designed specifically for law firms.

LawPay is an example. LawPay allows payments to be separated and directed to the proper accounts. LawPay also deducts processing fees from the firm's operating account to keep client funds intact. These two features are typically not available in contactless payment solutions built for retail or hospitality.

How Contactless Payments Benefit Attorneys and Law Firms

The benefits of contactless payments are clear. They are convenient, easy, and safe for clients.

Convenience and Efficiency

Clients do not have to withdraw cash from an ATM or find their checkbook to make contactless payments. If they have a mobile wallet, they do not even have to pull a credit card from their physical wallet.

Enhanced Client Experience

Contactless payments are fast and frictionless because they require no signature or PIN. The speed of the transaction benefits clients and the firm's front-office staff, who likely have more meaningful tasks on their daily agenda.

Safety and Security

Contactless payments are more secure than traditional card payments. The card itself remains in the client's possession, which shields card numbers from prying eyes. Additionally, tokenization protects the card data from hackers.

How LawPay Software Facilitates Contactless Payments for Law Firms

LawPay supports compliant and ethical contactless legal payments with in-person payment devices, QR code support, and mobile payment processing.

LawPay In-Person Payment Devices

LawPay's in-person payment devices deliver convenient contactless checkouts with tap-to-pay functionality. Clients can tap their smartphone or watch equipped with a mobile wallet, or they can tap their chip-enabled payment card. Either way, the transaction is quick and easy.

For clients who prefer the traditional card payment process, the in-person payment devices also support chip insert and swipe-to-pay. This versatility makes these devices popular with firms of all sizes. Large firms with heavy foot traffic can streamline their in-office checkouts, while solo lawyers can process in-person payments from anywhere.

Additionally, pairing the device with LawPay's American Bar Association (ABA)-approved payments software ensures compliant and ethical handling of funds.

LawPay QR Codes

Firms that prefer not to have an in-person payment device can implement contactless payments via LawPay's QR code functionality. The firm can display its QR code at the reception desk to support faster checkouts, or on printed invoices to encourage quick payments. Clients simply scan the code, open the secure payment page, and input their payment details. Payments can then be deposited as required to prevent commingling of funds.

LawPay Mobile Payment Processing

The LawPay mobile app integrates with a Bluetooth card reader that supports contactless payments as well as swipe-to-pay and chip insertion. You can load the app on an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet for secure and compliant payments on the go.

Final Notes

The rapid worldwide adoption of contactless payments sends a clear message. Your law firm's clients want quick, convenient payment options. Meeting that need without risking improper handling of client funds requires an integrated device and payments solution made specifically for lawyers.

LawPay is that solution. The comprehensive payments platform supports contactless transactions via in-person payment devices, QR codes, and mobile app payments. No matter how the transaction is processed, LawPay's hallmark compliance features keep the firm's accounting clean. Payments can be separated and deposited appropriately, while processing fees are always charged to the firm's operating account.

To learn more about how your law firm can implement compliant and secure contactless payments, schedule a demo today.