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The future of retail payments

Friday August 26 2011

The way we shop is changing. Barclaycard head of innovation, Stewart Roberts discusses how innovation in technology coupled with growing customer demand for faster, safer and more convenient transactions are driving rapid change in the way retail payments are both made and taken

The way we shop is changing. Barclaycard head of innovation, Stewart Roberts discusses how innovation in technology coupled with growing customer demand for faster, safer and more convenient transactions are driving rapid change in the way retail payments are both made and taken

 

Roberts, who is global director of innovation at Barclaycard, pointed out that, with over one in three people in the UK now owning a smartphone, more consumers than ever are accessing price comparison sites, buying online and crowd-sourcing product recommendations while on the move.

 

Analysts Yankee Group estimate that, in five years, mobile payments will be worth $984 billion (£597bn) globally. Digital technology is revolutionising the way we shop, a trend that retailers cannot afford to ignore, he argued.

 

Getting ahead of the competition

 

Roberts continued: “Mobile or contactless payment technologies are being used by increasing numbers of retailers to make checkout simpler, more transparent and more intuitive to enhance the point in the sales process where, typically, delays, queues and complexity offer the greatest risk of losing customers.

 

“Retailers selling quite commoditised products, in particular, are recognising the impact new payment technologies can have on customer experience, their satisfaction and retention – and therefore the bottom line.”

 

This, he said, is evidenced by Starbucks and even the M6 Toll joining retailers like Subway in partnering with Barclaycard to support mobile and contactless payments across their operations. But Roberts contended that even more specialist retailers are starting to recognise the potential of new payment technologies to enhance point of sale and contribute to the overall brand experience.

 

“New digital payments also represent a huge opportunity for small retailers to steal a march on larger competitors who may have been slower to adapt,” he said. “With the ability to make contactless payments via a mobile phone, now a reality but still in its infancy – Barclaycard and Orange launched the UK's first mobile phone equipped with contactless payment technology in May this year - first mover advantage on mobile payments among retailers is still a realistic and lucrative prospect. Retailers who win hearts and minds in mobile payments will ultimately win the game.”

 

Partnering for success

 

Increasingly sophisticated consumers expect to be able to choose from a range of payment methods to suit their circumstances, and to experience consistent service standards regardless of which method they choose. Roberts said a key challenge for retailers is how to provide the security of chip and PIN payments during online purchases, and the speed of ‘one-click’ online purchases on a mobile, without losing the convenience of contactless. “Is your business agile enough to respond to this challenge?” he questioned.

 

“Although the opportunities are great, the risk of a DIY approach in new payment technologies has increased exponentially, so choosing the right partner to work with has become a strategically significant decision for most companies,” he said.

 

“The right partner should be focused and capable of considering the needs of both the retailer and the customer in the payment process, creating exactly the right payment environment for the retailer's operations, its product line and the customer profile, while still offering the security of a trusted brand, a future proof relationship and value for money.”