Spending on contactless cards more than trebled over the last year to reach a record £2.32 billion in 2014, with the total spend last year more than double that of all the previous six years combined.
UK consumers used their contactless cards 319.2 million times last year, according to
data from the UK Cards Association, with ten contactless transactions apparently taking place every second – according to Essential Retail.
Morrisons announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it is rolling out contactless payment to all stores nationwide as it continues to invest in IT that it hopes will speed up the shopping journey for its customers, joining a range of high street retailers, coffee shops and transport hubs that already offer the technology.
Consumers’ increasing willingness to pay for items through this method is one of the reasons why Peter Keenan, CEO of Zapp, is so confident the UK is ready for the official launch of his mobile payments service in 2015. In an interview with Essential Retail, the technology boss said NFC “is here to stay” and the debate about whether NFC payments will work in retail “has been put to bed”, which he believes puts mobile payments in a prime position to succeed.
“Customers are becoming more comfortable with the technology from a security standpoint,” he explained.
“The roll-out of contactless has in many ways paved the way for a NFC-enabled mobile phone to come in and be a credible next generation way to pay.”
He added that when organisations create an easy, simple and secure user experience “consumers will use it”, although he acknowledged there is “still a long way to go to get NFC rolled out to all acceptance points in the UK”.
Keenan is confident that as the in-store payment terminal replacement cycle kicks in over the next few years, most big retailers will implement NFC-enabled technology, which will create an environment for mobile payments to take off. The Zapp CEO’s comments came before Morrisons’ announcement yesterday, but his observations describe exactly what the supermarket group plans to do.
The grocer said that all of its stores will have contactless payment PED units by summer 2015, as it invests more than £4 million over the next three months to upgrade 15,500 payment points across its supermarkets and convenience stores.
Morrisons is not one of the confirmed retailers set to launch mobile payments, but it is the type of business Zapp will be targeting. Last year, the tech company revealed that Sainsbury’s, House of Fraser, Asda, Clarks and Thomas Cook were among the large high street names set to use its service later in 2015.
Keenan remarked: “It won’t surprise you that last year’s announcement has created a lot of excitement and interest from retailers up and down the country.
“We are very mindful that in order for Zapp to get into the market we are going after high volume retailers, for example grocers and travel firms, where there is a lot of volume and different ways to pay.”
He added: “For lots of customers to get comfortable with mobile payments they must get into what we are calling ‘the Zapp habit’ of using their mobile phone to pay. We want customers to pay with their phone on the way to work in the morning, at lunchtime, through to heading home – whatever payment occasion they have got – not just for big purchases.”
Further Zapp partnership announcements are planned for the coming months, and Keenan’s strategy is to implement the company’s technology with at least one national bank’s mobile app by the summer, meaning consumers will be able to pay for goods in some participating stores simply by using their smartphones.
Another stimulator for mobile payments, in Keenan’s eyes, was last year’s launch of mobile-enabled transactions by global tech company Apple.
The unveiling of Apple Pay in the US is viewed as a landmark moment in terms of consumers adoption of similar services, not least because the manufacturer held out from enabling its products with NFC for a number of years. Now it has – via the arrival of the iPhone 6 – it reinforces in retailers’ and merchants’ minds that NFC has popular appeal, says Keenan.
“Apple Pay is positive for the industry for a number of reasons, and it’s a vote of confidence in mobile payments,” he added.
“Well done Apple for having the conviction to launch and put its brand behind it. It’s solved the NFC debate over night.”
Mobile payments have been touted as ‘the new way to pay’ as smartphone usage has gained momentum, and there are a number of players battling for their share of the market. It is Vocalink-owned Zapp’s emergence since 2013, however, that appears to have gained significant traction. As frictionless transactions gain even wider appeal, and with the contactless limit set to rise from £20 to £30 later this year, the mood seems right for mobile to truly enter the payments scene.
“Two years into the journey I’ve never been so excited about what this means for customers and businesses going forward,” Keenan noted.
“It’s all about building out the ecosystem, getting retailers on board, getting the right service up and running in the summer and then rolling it out to the rest of the market.”
The post Contactless cards have paved way for mobile payments appeared first on Payments Cards & Mobile.