Love is… cash?

The payments revolution is gathering pace. More and more retail outlets now have contactless capable Chip and PIN terminals (PEDs) and, in parallel, more and more cards are now issued with contactless chips. So why haven’t retailers fallen head over heels for contactless yet?

A report by the UK Cards Association shows that the number of plastic cards capable of being used in a contactless environment grew by 38% in 2012 to reach an estimated 31 million, while the number of terminals accepting these cards also increased – ending the year on 144,000.

There’s clearly investment in near field communication (NFC) to further the use of the contactless technology – enabling loyalty or dynamic couponing through your mobile at the point of purchase via the contactless capable PED. And underlying this is a push to use an electronic wallet, PayPal  and Starbucks have theirs and we expect Visa and MasterCard to launch theirs soon (they exist in the online world only at the moment) along with most high street banks and more retail brands.

Soon you might be able to pay with your phone and exchange some data with the retailer at the same time, perhaps in return for an immediate discount or a coupon for the next time you shop with them. Indeed MasterCard and weve made an announcement recently that confirms this.


So what’s not to love?

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, I love payments, I love the way the two together can make great things happen… but the problem here is ubiquity.

For something to succeed it needs to be simple and it needs to have a standard, something that is common and understood by many so that it can be implemented in the right way and without conflict. These things don’t exist at the moment, so when my customers ask which way to go I can’t give them a clear answer because in order to get to ubiquity, where they can accept any eWallet/NFC data exchange, they may have to do tons of integrations.

See how our own Mark Denton got on when we challenged him to a shopping day out in London – without his wallet!

Over the coming months we’re looking to work with the UK Cards Association to see if we can make some headway in terms of reaching an appropriate standard. In the past six months BT has hosted an NFC forum which asked similar questions. Working together, a solution should be possible. But today retailers are left as bemused as their service provider partners.

For now, at least, it’s still OK to love cash.


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