Remember emoney? A rash of new companies launched before the dotcom boom, to show that micropayments in the Internet future would be main on line, using etokens, stored value paid for in cash. I have to say that, at the time, I didn’t get it, because frankly I couldn’t see what was wrong with cash.
I still like cash and I think it is nonsense the way that for some people, it is like kryptonite, they don’t want to go anywhere near it. While I sense their irritation at handling coins, the fact remains that almost everyone likes cash for all sorts of different transactions; we may love debit cards and contactless payments, but that doesn’t mean we have gone off cash and, while we are all feeling sensitive about our future in a threatened triple dip recession, we are actually using more of it than ever.
So actually, I think cash is a red herring. The future of non-cash payments will embrace a number of different methods and technologies, that can embrace debit and credit cards, PayPal and Google, as well as contactless. The question is, which new methods should retailers back, so that they don’t back a three-legged pony, and get pay back through more frequent and higher-value purchases.
For instance, it has been shown that consumers who connect to mobile ecommerce sites through iPads spend more that those who connect via smart phones. It has been suggested that this simply means that iPad owners are richer, and there must be something in that, but these are clues that everyone in payments should take notice of.
Consumers are making the decisions. This means that, while the future of contactless will depend in part on how much of the technology is rolled out, it will also depend on take-up and at present, there are not yet enough figures to back this up. There are also all sorts of clever ideas coming from the US but they are not even in pilot in Europe yet.
The best advice is to stick close to consumers and ask them regularly how they want to pay, the very insight that is often missing from research into the future of payments, which relies too heavily on analysts, industry pundits and vendors.