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Contactless moves towards mobile in post-pandemic shopping revival

Two new reports have been launched today, one with results of a national survey into the way UK consumers are choosing to pay as they reacquaint themselves with the new ‘low touch’ world of retail and one with data on contactless payment transactions in the DACH region.

With 57 days passing since so-called ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK, the findings of the UK research, commissioned by Samsung Pay, suggests that the nation has potentially reached a ‘tipping point’ in how they choose to pay for their goods when out and about.

Whilst traditionally using cash or plastic cards for payments, the country has embraced more digital forms of payment over the last few years with almost half (46%) of respondents saying they were more willing to pay digitally at the peak of the lockdown in 2020.

But as stores reopened in 2021 with more stringent health and safety measures, we’re seeing an even greater shift towards more low contact, mobile forms of payment.

By giving people the ability to turn their smartphone or smartwatch into a digital wallet that houses customers’ credit, debit and loyalty cards for use virtually everywhere contactless is accepted, the research also found that remarkably, two thirds of people (62%) would now prefer to use their payment card through their mobile wallet, which is double the number of people from last year (31%).

With the nation more tech savvy than ever, and with hygiene, convenience and simplicity top of people’s minds when it comes to payments, shoppers are increasingly turning to their devices to pay.

90% of people agreed with the statement that using a smartphone or smartwatch to make contactless payments during the pandemic was more convenient; with 4 in 5 people (80%) saying they enjoy the fact they can switch between their smartphone and smartwatch to make payments.

Whilst mobile payments aren’t new, the nation has been addicted to spending on plastic in recent years; however, the tide is beginning to turn.  Nearly half of those polled (42%) agree that carrying multiple physical cards is inconvenient and over half of people (53%) would happily no longer receive plastic payment cards from their bank.

DACH region reaches tipping point for contactless payments

Contactless payments in the DACH regionMeanwhile, Nets Group has published new data on contactless payment transactions in the DACH region. This region, until recently heavily reliant on cash and invoicing, has experienced a dramatic transformation in contactless adoption over the last two years.

In June 2019, overall contactless adoption in the DACH region was at just 40%. This rose quickly to 71% by June 2020 and by June 2021 more than three quarters of cashless transactions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were contactless. The average contactless rate is now 77% in Germany, 82% in Austria and 80% in Switzerland.

“The pandemic has significantly accelerated a steadily growing trend in the DACH region,” said Robert Hoffmann, CEO of Nets Merchant Services.

“It was inevitable that Germany, Austria and Switzerland would ultimately achieve high levels of contactless payment adoption, but without this catalyst, it would have taken years to reach where it is today. An increasing number of merchants here are now offering and actively encouraging tap-and-go, which is becoming the norm for consumers.”

Such high levels of overall contactless adoption put the DACH region on a level field with the Nordics, which, despite being a highly digitised society, has also seen significant growth in contactless payments over the past two years.

In January 2020, average contactless adoption in the Nordics was at 56%. This grew to 75% by January 2021. Norway saw extreme growth, with only 35% contactless adoption in January 2020 rising to 79% in January 2021.

Commenting on the UK research, Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services and Technology, Samsung UK and Ireland, said, “This shift is indicative of the way customers are migrating towards mobile payments as confidence and convenience grows in more digital forms of transaction.

The reality is retail looks and feels different these days, and customers are savvy about ways to keep themselves safe in store whilst speeding up transactions at the till. Mobile payments are not only more convenient and more hygienic, but they can offer added benefits in terms of cashback and rewards.

The move to mobile payment is also being compounded by people’s heightened environmental concerns. A fifth of people (20%) feel that using smart devices to pay will be better for the environment and one in four (24%) see it as more convenient than carrying physical cards.”


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