If you build it, they will come

If you build it, they will come

The anti-cash lobby continues to undermine the mobile payments movement with tiresome research and silly soundbites

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ll be aware of the delightful President Trump and his penchant for shouting ‘fake news!’ at every available opportunity. As this is a thing now, I’m going to run with it and accuse the anti-cash lobby of peddling alternative facts in a desperate attempt to promote the use of digital payments.

By way of example, ING recently released research showing that one in three Europeans would rather visit a shop that only accepted cashless payments, although it was also pointed out that this way of thinking is more popular in emerging economies than rich countries. Apparently, 21% of Europeans rarely carry cash anymore. “The days of rushing to the ATM so you have enough money for the weekend are long gone,” said ING senior economist Ian Bright. “Card and even mobile phone payments are increasingly being seen as safe substitutes.”

Yet the cold, hard reality is that notes and coins still have a huge role to play in the payments ecosystem. Cash remains the dominant way to pay for smaller transactions, the research found. And buried at the end of the press release trumpeting the survey, this little gem: around three quarters of respondents said they would never go completely cashless.

Some more research for you…77% of British consumers have concerns about using new payment methods, and 27% do not currently use them, according to law firm Paul Hastings who surveyed 2,093 people. The risk of fraud was cited as the main barrier (59%), followed by data security incidents (49%) and the risk of theft (45%).

The number of Apple Pay transactions in the latest quarter rose 450% from the same period a year ago as the mobile payments service expanded to a number of new markets. CEO Tim Cook made the announcement during a conference call with analysts. As usual, the number of Apple Pay users wasn’t revealed, nor revenue from the service, the value of transactions etc. But hey, 450% sounds great, so let us know if you want that printed up on a baseball cap.

My tech-savvy girlfriend doesn’t bother with Apple Pay. I can take my card and tap it, she says, what benefit is there in tapping a phone? It actually takes longer than a contactless card. And that is the crux of the matter, there has to be a real customer proposition that delivers more than just a payment. A few years back, Accenture did research on this and found consumers wanted both PFM and receipt management on mobile wallets, but in 2017 few if any wallets offer these functionalities. 

In a nutshell, spend less time pumping out ‘RIP cash’ press releases and more time listening to your customers; give them the likes of transaction-based incentives. If you build it, they will come. As things stand, that all important Uber moment remains tantalisingly out of reach.

Scott Thompson, Editor, Retail Technology Innovation Hub

Why merchants need to sell the benefits of a cashless future

Why merchants need to sell the benefits of a cashless future