Filed Under: Markets, Retail

Can we learn anything from the early use of contactless cards?

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The results from the first couple of years of contactless payments use in the UK show that, as expected, contactless is being used as cash replacement for small transactions.

The average value of a contactless transaction is only £4.93.

[From Tap-and-go is on the move to a shop near you | Mail Online]

It’s not always used simply because of the convenience, as one commentator noted in the comments on this story:

I have swtiched to using the contactless payment method to purchase sandwiches at shops such as Pret A Manger and Eat mainly because I am fed up with them ofloading their fake pound coins on me in their change

[From Tap-and-go is on the move to a shop near you | Mail Online]

Bizarrely, I was thinking about this the other day. I parked in Derby, which is in the midlands and when I returned to the car the local council wanted to charge me £11.20. In some kind of hommage to Derby’s past, the machine didn’t take cards or mobile payments, so we were reduced to emptying out our pockets, rummaging in the glove compartment and searching the floor of the car for change. Fortunately, my fellows had plenty of pocket change. But when we started feeding it into the machine, four out of the ten £1 coins we had amassed were repeatedly rejected, presumably because they were fake. I’d never really thought that the avoidance of fake currency would be part of the retailer’s business case, but I need to revise my opinion!

But what is the business case? Is it just about payments? For some kinds of retailers, the convenience of contactless payments makes sense only when it is also part of some bigger model, generally involving value-added propositions such as loyalty. The was recognised by Bling Nation, when they decided to refocus on the loyalty side of things…

John Paul Coupa of Coupa Café has the system in all three of his northern California locations. “It gets used a lot,” says Coupa, “(even) more than American Express.” Coupa recently implemented the FanConnect system.

[From ContactlessNews | Contactless payment scheme enables loyalty via Facebook]

In Northern California, then, things look good. But on the other side of the country, on the apparently more conservative east cost, the results were quite different.

Other merchants have not enjoyed the same level of success. Charles Savas, president of Center Beverage in Stoneham, Mass., got rid of the system after just three months. “They were going to charge me $40 a month,” he says, “and I only had $35 in sales for the first three months.”

[From ContactlessNews | Contactless payment scheme enables loyalty via Facebook]

A mixed picture. But does any of this early experience matter? If contactless is important only as the rails for mobile to run on, then the early feedback from the contactless card deployments doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t tell us anything about the mobile future, does it?

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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