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  1. Analysis
August 13, 2015

Now, to contactless… is the groundwork finally laid?

So. Contactless figures abound left, right and centre. In the last week we’ve had MasterCard, Barclaycard, Visa and The UK Cards Association, among many others, tell us how much contactless spending has increased.

By Anna Milne

So. Contactless figures abound left, right and centre. In the last week we’ve had MasterCard, Barclaycard, Visa and The UK Cards Association, among many others, tell us how much contactless spending has increased

I am a contactless fan, no doubt. The increase as of 1 September 2015 won’t make a major difference, however.

I’d prefer to see it rise to £50 but I understand the implications this entails vis-à-vis offline transactions. In July 2015, around the launch of Apple Pay, Visa stated that by the end of 2015, over 80% of contactless terminals will accept payments of any value made with Apple Pay and other mobile contactless services. But this is dependent of course on the number of such compatible handsets in the arena.

We are seeing coverage and research about the immense increase in contactless spending and coverage about how people are changing their shopping habits- turning away from the major supermarkets for their weekly shops, instead picking up groceries on a sometimes daily basis, from local, independent merchants.

So how long before the two trends are put together and presented as a lucrative business case for local traders? How many local shops have contactless terminals? I can count one in my area, and it is newly opened.

For the record, it has gone from strength to strength since opening and the convenience of contactless has without doubt played into this success. It is there for all to see- how the convenience and speed of a contactless transaction impacts on everybody- from the pressured cashier to the customer paying to the customer waiting in line in a tight spot, having their basket bashed by browsers still shopping. Everyone wins. Even the cash paying customers waiting in line benefit.

Now we have something of an ongoing disagreement about contactless on this desk (you can take a stab at which side I’m on) but there’s not a thing to be said against contactless in this scenario. Yet this scenario is where the lack of contactless is glaring, up and down the country.

Said grocer is in Zone 2 but even here at CI Towers, in Zone 1 Farringdon, I don’t believe there are any lunchtime stands on Leather Lane that accept contactless, and to save a trip to a cashpoint I am quite sure I am not alone in opting for the Prets, the Sainsburys, the mainstream card-accepting outlets.

As for mPOS, I have seen one around here. Uno. It’s fair to say processors and acquirers are not putting much effort into promoting it, there being little profit in it for them. And I suspect a lot of people who would rather pay by card, let alone contactless, don’t even bother asking when it is clear a point of sale terminal or reader is absent.

But most importantly, we need to see contactless more throughout the country, it’s not all about the inner confines of the M25. Nationwide retailers that have it, need to roll out properly nationwide and retailers nationwide, large or small, need to cop on and get it. And there are good mPOS incentives for small merchants.

There are quite a few contactless public transport ticketing initiatives in UK cities. As soon as Manchester sorts its game out and treats its citizens to the NFC ticketing they’ve been promised, then we might be in business.

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