This 'wave or swipe and pay' technology, branded as payWave by Visa and PayPass by MasterCard, is dubbed the next big thing in the cashless world. Image Credit: Supplied

The user simply waves, swipes or taps the card onto a special reader at the cashier.

Through short-range wireless technology, the reader picks up the signal and processes the transaction. No personal identification number (PIN) or signature is required.

How do I know my card offers this feature?

Check your credit or debit card and look for the symbol PayPass (for MasterCard) or PayWave (for Visa).

Which banks are offering it?

HSBC, Emirates NBD, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and ADCB, among others.

Where can I use it?

There is still a limited number of UAE retailers and merchants who have acquired the special card readers. These include Costa Coffee outlets, Cinnabon, LuLu Hypermarket, Pizza Hut, Subway, Burger King, Wild Wadi Jumeirah, Reel Cinema, Kidzania, Sega Republic and Super Care Pharmacy, among others.

Why should I use it?

It can help you save time at the cashier. Contactless transaction is processed in just four to six seconds, compared to 35 seconds with traditional magnetic strip cards, thus helping reduce average customer queuing time, according to Visa. It allows you to pay for items as low as Dh1, so it can prove useful when you feel like grabbing a sandwich or popping out for lunch.

How secure is it? What if I lose my card?

Banks manage risks of contactless transactions on lost or stolen cards. Internal security parameters have been set up to minimise risk. Hence, a PIN or signature is occasionally prompted, according to HSBC. There's also maximum limit as to how much you can spend with your card daily, which could be around Dh100, according to another bank. This will help monitor suspicious transactions.