Is Technology Changing the Way we Pay Forever?
Some of us may embrace it, but many of us will shy away citing things such as “Is it safe?” and “I don’t want these people having my details”. Regardless of how anyone feels about it, there is no doubt that the way we pay for our goods and services is changing at an exponential pace. According to tracking firm Gartner, between 2012-2013 worldwide mobile payments increased from $163 billion to a staggering $235 billion and this growth is expected to continue with growth of a further $90 billion
Gone are the days where cheques and hard up cash carried the most weight, now is the time of contactless cards and apps designed specifically to provide the quickest and most efficient way to get what you want on the move. In this article we will look at just a few of the new technologies being used and the pros and cons that come with this new era.
Square, founded in 2009 and anchored by tech heavyweight Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame was one of the early adopters of this ethos. It works by providing a free card reader to its retailers who simply have to plug it in to their Android phone, iPhone or iPad. All that remains then is to download the free app and you can start using your mobile device as a payment processor in any sales environment. Square then charge a rate of 2.75% across all transactions made using the technology.
This a great example or how technology and traditional methods can work together, and large deals for the technology with Starbucks, and more recently Whole foods, show this is definitely working on some level. For the user however, the experience is very much the same; choose what you want, hand over your card and you’re off.
Square is a very useful service, but its real focus is on making transactions as simple as possible for the retailer. There are however many other businesses who are looking more at functionality for the end user. These days, with many of us living hectic lifestyles and our mobile phones being a central part of our lives, surely we all want things to be as quick and easy as possible – right?
Mobile apps are one of the simplest ways for us to do this, they give us the autonomy to get what we want, when we want and allow retailers to have their product in our faces at all times. This works for everyone when we are ordering something online for a delivery or to reserve an item, but what about the many micro transactions we go through every single day?
Starbucks, once again, are a great example, as their mobile app is used all over the world and makes things as simple as possible for the customer – load up your card with some money, order your drink and scan the app. Simples.
They are of course far from the only company to use this technology, but they are certainly one of the largest entities doing so, and as this becomes the norm in our coffeehouses it will invariably spread across other sectors in retail and service too.
Technologies such as these and the London Oyster card – a contactless card that is preloaded and then used for transport around London – are already ingrained into our daily lives and will continue to become more integral as time goes on.
Finally we need to take a look at the next step, what could be the next big thing when it comes to on-the-go payments? Paypal Beacon certainly hopes that this is where they come in – a simple Bluetooth device is used by the retailer, which then sends out a low energy signal to anyone within a certain radius that has the PayPal app.
This of course has its benefit for the retailer, in that they can draw customers in with notifications and special offers via the app, it also allows them to provide a much more personal, efficient service which will potentially increase the chance of repeat business.
For the customer, the app will allow you to enjoy an entirely hands free experience, as it can make transactions as simple as picking up a product, going to the counter and advising you are paying via Paypal. After that Voila! The merchant does the work and you walk away without even having to reach into your pocket.
The video below gives a brief glimpse of how the service would work:
This is due to be released shortly, but as with most new technology such as this there are always going to be security worries as well as some bedding-in problems. The potential however, should everything gel, could change the way we interact with retailers forever.