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Home |About Us | Blog | As Cards Replace Cash, Why UK Firms Should Embrace Mobile and Digital Payments

This isn’t the death of cash, but it does herald a new dawn for digital payments, driving new opportunities for retailers and other businesses to improve the customer experience and grow profits. As we can see from the announcements at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week, the world is already moving towards mobile and cash-free payments. It’s important that UK businesses aren’t left behind.

Going digital

The latest figures from industry body UK Finance were revealed last week by the Guardian. They paint the picture of UK consumers adopting a more digital-savvy approach to shopping. Although cash accounted for 62% of all UK payments back in 2006, the figure dropped to 40% in 2016 and will represent less than a quarter (21%) by 2026, it’s predicted. Supporting the findings are separate stats revealing that UK consumers withdrew £6bn less from ATMs in 2016 than in the previous year.

Now I fully believe that there will always be a place for cash — at least, in my working lifetime. However, it will increasingly be limited to use in low value purchases and predominantly by older generations. For businesses, this represents a great opportunity. Cards are:

• Faster to process at the till, especially contactless cards
• Safer — you’ll be less of a target for thieves
• Increasingly popular for both face-to-face and online transactions, enabling you to increase profits
• Able to support omnichannel retail — a seamless customer experience across online and offline channels which could help you grow revenue and learn more about customer spending patterns to boost sales
• Easy to link to mobile devices, offering yet another way for customers to pay quickly and easily

Innovation is coming

Mobile is one area particularly primed for growth. In fact, in the US mobile payments are set to hit nearly $3 trillion in the next couple of years, and the UK won’t be far behind. In fact, spending on mobile devices soared by 336% from H1 2016 to the first half of 2017. Apple Pay has now removed its £30 spending limit to bring it in line with the Android ecosystem, offering more opportunities for UK businesses to grow.

On that note, Google recently consolidated Android Pay and all of its other payment methods into a single Google Pay service. For retailers this means an opportunity to gain access to millions of new global consumers who have saved their card details with Google — whether they’ve done so through the Chrome browser, Android Pay, Google Wallet or the Play Store.

The annual Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona is also a great place to catch up with the latest in the mobile payments space. This year, we’ve seen a major push around wearable payments:

• Mastercard research ahead of the show revealed that a quarter (24%) of Europeans expect to start using “tap and go” payments via a smartwatch, bracelet, keyring or other wearable
Visa signed deals with several European banks in a bid to support contactless payments via wearables
• Swiss IoT company WISeKey announced a new platform which embeds an EMV payment chip in consumer wearable devices
• One company is even showing off a connected Wallet Card, allowing users to store more than one card on a single slab of plastic and receive messages from their bank.
Samsung Pay won “Best Mobile Innovation for Payment” at the MWC awards

At Optomany we’re committed to supporting our client’s journey to an omnichannel future. Digital is at the heart of everything we do, which is why our axept® platform supports innovative payments services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay — helping retailers meet the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy British consumer. Looking at MWC we’re sure this is just the start of an exciting journey, and we’ll be there every step of the way to add value.

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