It would appear that all is going great for contactless payments in the UK. A new report on some research commissioned by Barclaycard this week reveals that the contactless payment symbol is now recognised by the vast majority of Brits. Over 80% of the public – almost double the figure from a year ago – can identify the contactless symbol, with people in London and the North West the quickest to adopt the new way to pay.
The research highlights a huge shift in consumer spending preference, with a remarkable 61% of people saying they preferred using cards over cash to buy items up to £20. “The number of people using contactless has rocketed over the last year and, across Barclays, we’re now seeing our customers make more than a million such payments per month. We’re now working with a much wider range of retailers across transport, supermarkets, entertainment and indeed anywhere you currently use cash. A host of retailers have announced the move to contactless, including Starbucks, Waitrose and the M6 toll road”, says Richard Armstrong, Retailer Relationship Director, Barclaycard. “We’ve also given our customers greater choice in how they make contactless payments. We now offer not just contactless debit and credit cards but also mobile phones, Barclaycard PayTag which can be attached to your mobile and even, at selected events, a Barclaycard PayBand to be worn around your wrist”, he continues.
With contactless transactions now passing the million-a-month mark, Barclaycard asked behavioural psychologist Donna Dawson to explain how new technology catches on.
Said Donna Dawson, behavioural psychologist, “There are connected issues at work – habit and fear. We’ve been using coins since 600BC, which is a tough habit to break. Because of this, different ways to pay have the shock of the ‘new’, and if we have no experience of something, we fear it. Increased recognition leads to a significant trend developing, and represents the breakthrough of a psychological barrier. So the fact that we’re witnessing this with a technology which is only five years old compared to centuries of cash is remarkable.”
One hurdle for the adoption of contactless has been a perception that the technology wasn’t safe. 75% of people didn’t know that contactless, like all card payments, are insured against fraud. When told that this was the case, more than four in ten said they would be even more inclined to use the technology with fewer than one in ten still having concerns.
In contrast to people’s fears of electronic fraud, the most common way to lose money was forgetfulness: a quarter of those surveyed admitted that they had left their wallet or purse in a public place, losing all the money inside. Given our absentmindedness it would seem that carrying contactless over cash will be safer, cheaper and more convenient for many people.
One retailer that offers contactless payment to its customers is The Co-operative Group, which has begun a trial of the technology. Mark Hale, CIO and Supply Chain Director, The Co-operative Food, explains how the technology works in its stores, “Customer reaction has been very positive since we introduced contactless payments into our stores within the M25 and Manchester city centre in May 2012. We identified from implementation in other retailers that customers often worry they’ll do something wrong and so hold back from using their cards. We learnt from that experience and have focussed on training our store colleagues to help customers through their first purchase and have supported this with clear point of sale promoting the fact that contactless is available. We also made sure that our solution was part of the Chip & PIN device so that the customer didn’t have to look for a different terminal to make a contactless payment. Once shoppers have used contactless technology they really seem to appreciate the quicker payments and are choosing to use it on a regular basis. My advice to customers is to try it when you next make a purchase in one of the stores that offers contactless payment.”
Would you recognise the contactless payment logo if you didn’t work in the industry? Would your spouse, your partner, parents or children? Go ahead, ask them and let us know…