Last week I impressed my wife.
Now, this isn’t normally enough to warrant a blog post, it does happen reasonably regularly (I hope). The reason it is significant is that I impressed, maybe astounded, her whilst out shopping. And it was something that has been the norm in my head for quite a while. In fact I was a little surprised at how un-mainstream the act I committed was.
All I did was pay via contactless payment.
For a few minutes after I felt like David Blaine. I had performed the ultimate magic trick. Forget freezing myself in a block office or levitating, I had managed to get out of a shop ten seconds earlier than I would have done previously. Questions were thrown at me – “How did you pay for that so quickly?”, “I didn’t see you enter your PIN”, “Are you sure we’re not stealing this?”, “Was the card machine broken?”
Surely everyone knows about and understands contactless? I hear about it regularly. Granted I work in Retail Technology but still I thought it was commonplace. This got my mind thinking back to the transaction in question. I wasn’t prompted to use contactless and there was no information around the payment device telling me I could. “Put your card in the machine” was how the instruction was given to me by the store staff.
Not a week goes by without a story in Retail Week about a new retailer adopting contactless payment. A few weeks ago Boots became the latest major high street player to deploy. This is becoming mainstream technology. The question now is how do we kick start the contactless revolution? Is there enough there to make me use it every time. I’m well trained in putting my card in and entering my PIN. I try and use contactless whenever I can but more often than not I remember too late and my card is already inserted.
If I ultimately think why I chose to use contactless I can put it down to the fact that I saw the model number of the PED, knew it supported contactless and just did it. That’s not very mainstream is it?
The next shop we came to on our shopping trip also offered contactless so I decided the time was right to reveal the secret of my success. Facing the risk of being kicked out of the magic circle, I peeled back the curtain and explained all.
“Remember that advert where the man was going down the big waterslide (or was it a roller coaster)?” this was going well. “How do you think he paid so quickly?”
I placed my card on the screen, the four lights turned green and the receipt popped out. In this shop it wasn’t my wife that was confused but the shop assistant – “Did you enter your PIN ? You need to enter your PIN”.
I then explained to her about what I had done. My magician status restored.
The trouble is that since all this happened I have started to notice the scare stories about contactless. From people stealing card details as they walk by me or being charged multiple times if I stand too close to a counter, it is being painted as a bad thing and a sure-fire way to lose your money. The very fact you are on this site reading this blog tells me you know these stories are nonsense. For most “normal” people I really think this is the perception of contactless. People thought 4 digit numbers were less secure than a signature. Now they have to get used to the ide that just waving (holding against a screen) a bit of plastic is more secure than a PIN. They need to be educated and it has to start with the in-store experience.
I’ve made a start. Whenever I don’t get prompted to use it in a shop I will rectify the situation. Apparently shopping with me is “no fun anymore”. I’ve never seen someone adopt contactless as a philosophy as quickly as my wife does on a shopping trip together. Unfortunately I’m not talking about card payments.
Posted by Mark Denton, Head of Solution Consulting, BT Expedite