Click here
Click here
Retail Technology, Retail technology News
Click here

Cash to cashless: the future of instore technology?

Thursday February 23 2012

Contactless payment has been listed as the future of in-store technology. Richard Olds, who heads up a retail IT services provider, discusses the challenges that still need to be overcome to ensure acceptance of the initiative

Contactless payment has been listed as the future of in-store technology. Richard Olds, who heads up a retail IT services provider, discusses the challenges that still need to be overcome to ensure acceptance of the initiative

 

“2012 has been tipped as the year in which contactless payment will finally take off in Britain. With the London Olympics fast approaching the benefits of this potentially, super-efficient payment technology have been duly-noted,” said Richard Olds, chief executive at Vista Support.

 

The success of London’s Oyster card has allowed people traveling through the city to swipe and pay-as-you-go for some time now. This has enabled faster transition through the turnstiles and ultimately through the underground’s rail system. We are now beginning to see the emergence of near field communications (NFC) in mobile devices too. These and other contactless technologies all represent a step towards the elimination of cash.

 

Challenging security concerns

 

But Olds contends that there is a long way to go before retailers and consumers fully embrace the idea. A key issue gaining momentum in the debate is security. “In retail outlets using contactless payment technology so far, transactions have been restricted to under £15 in order to minimise the extent of any potential theft,” he said.

 

“A flaw in the payment system has found that any criminal with a powerful enough portable touchpad could potentially intercept a payment from anyone in the vicinity. Therefore security levels need to be improved in order for contactless payment to truly take-off – especially for high-value purchases.”

 

However the capabilities of this technology are far reaching in terms of convenience. “Some restaurant companies are already making the dining experience more convenient for customers by enabling automated ordering from the table and processing payments without the need to visit a till point,” Olds added. The technology is already in use in various fast food and restaurant outlets like McDonalds, Pret a Manger and YO! Sushi, the largest sushi restaurant chain in the UK.

 

The Vista chief suggested that NFC could even speed up bill sharing by allowing the party to pay each other through their smartphones therefore making it possible for the bill to be settled by one person. This would be a simpler option than the traditional splitting of tender on the PDQ machine, which demands every member of the party going through the Chip and PIN card authorisation process.

 

Moving towards a cashless society

 

Technologies like this are enabling the move towards a cashless society and with developments like Google Wallet already being used this may not be far away. The Google Wallet mobile app claims to not only securely store your credit cards on your phone but also the retailer discounts and offers, much in the same way as a loyalty card would. This cuts down the amount of cards that you need to carry.

 

When you check out at a bricks-and-mortar store that accepts Google Wallet, you can pay and redeem offers just by tapping your phone at the point of sale. Likewise the Google Wallet online service enables you to pay quickly by signing into your online account where your credit cards will be stored in the cloud.

 

“The benefits of this kind of payment technology to the consumer and the retailer are vast. Both can benefit from a quicker and more convenient transaction time. And if the technology were to become a universal source of payment then this would eliminate the need for retailers to maintain hardware such as Chip and PIN devices,” Olds confirmed. This is an appealing prospect when considering that out of the 45,000 support calls that come from the retailer Game, 25,000 reference Chip and PIN faults.

 

The potential savings that could be made to productivity and the improvements to customer service, through this type of payment are very appealing. “The key is to make the most out of the technologies that are available. If contactless payment isn’t on the agenda right now then maintaining existing in-store technology and ensuring maximum equipment up-time must be,” Olds concluded.