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Rise of contactless suggests growing consumer appetite for ease and convenience of digital payment

The rise of contactless payments suggests a change in consumer attitudes in favour of the easy and convenient processes that have been popularised online and through mobile technologies, industry figures suggest today.

Figures released by Barclaycard today show a growing acceptance of contactless payments among consumers. The credit card company questioned 2,003 UK adults through Opinium research in July and found that 59% now used this payment method, with 71% saying they now use it more frequently than they did a year ago. The major attraction, it found, was the time saved, cited by 55%, while 48% said they liked the convenience of not putting in their PIN number every time they pay.

“As the old adage goes ‘time is money’ and since introducing contactless to the UK 10 years ago, we’ve seen Brits embrace the technology in their droves,” said Tami Hargreaves, director of innovation and partnerships at Barclaycard Mobile Payments. “And with speed, security and convenience all being so important for shoppers, it’s not surprising that contactless is quickly becoming the most popular way to pay.”

“Faster service also means less time waiting to pay for a morning coffee or sandwich in the midst of the lunchtime rush – which will undoubtedly be music to the ears for the millions of Brits who get frustrated by queues and long wait times.”

Heather Barson, director retail and hospitality UK and Ireland at Fujitsu, said the figures were further evidence of a consumer appetite for digital payments, either directly through contactless debit and credit cards or by uploading those cards to their phones.

“It is vital for retailers to future proof their businesses, and one component of this is embracing contactless payments,” she said. She added: “At Fujitsu, we expect contactless payments to be an increasingly important feature in the British payments landscape. The digital world is rapidly becoming more integrated into the retail environment and payment systems. Our recent Forgotten Shop Floor study found that eight in 10 consumers report that they would spend more with retailers that have a better technology offering, which means that retailers willing to embrace technology advancements are the ones who reap the rewards.

“While the increase in the maximum spend rose from £20 to £30 in September last year helped make the service even more useful, we don’t believe the trend has reached its peak yet.”

Barclaycard also carried out online interviews with 509 retailers, of which 252 accept contactless payments. Three quarters (75%) of those who have introduced contactless payments now process an average of 30% more transactions each day. Two in five retailers either only accept card payments or plan to become cash-free in the next five years, Barclaycard research found. However, half of all retailers don’t yet accept contactless payments.

Paul Lewis, senior director of marketing at VoucherCodes.co.uk, said now was the time for retailers to consider the technology. “Contactless payments and eWallets such as Apple Pay provide both retailers and consumers with a fantastic opportunity on the high street,” he said. “With well over half of Brits now using contactless regularly, it is clear, convenience and ease of use is a priority for consumers. In fact, research from VoucherCodes.co.uk, part of RetailMeNot, shows that mobile payments alone accounted for £17.24 million of in-store spending last year.

“For retailers, the opportunities that contactless payments provide are incredibly beneficial from a business strategy perspective. Mobile is at the heart of every single stage of the shopping journey, from finding a product on the store website to comparing prices, and ultimately making the final purchase. Retailers should already be aware of the massive opportunities mobile technology can provide now traditional banks and fintech firms are supporting innovation for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Contactless payments complete the digital cycle and it would be a step in the right direction for retailers to embrace the increase in payments to £100.”

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