Customers heading for the 'less cash society'

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on September 8, 2011

Customers heading for the 'less cash society'

Visa Europe has conducted its first 'Contactless Barometer' study to benchmark consumer take-up of new payment methods, identifying significantly positive feedback about contactless payments by those who had used it, and a desire for wider availability in mainstream retail outlets.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers found that 85% of contactless payment users would recommend the payment system to their friends and family, and that 90% think it makes life simpler.

Some 28% of consumers said that there aren't yet enough retail outlets offering it, and more than half (57%) said they have never been asked to pay with contactless in a shop. More than one in three (37%) cited this as the main barrier preventing them from using the technology.

The research shows, however, that consumers are most likely to want to use their contactless cards in fast moving retail outlets where the key benefits of the technology (i.e. speed and simplicity) are most obviously felt.

Fast food restaurants, petrol stations, and supermarkets were selected as the venues where consumers are most likely to want to use contactless over chip and pin. The consumer's motivations for doing so were clear: contactless is most popular for people in a rush (58%), people with a queue behind them (30%), and those in busy places with lots of people (26%).

For Mark Austin, head of contactless for Visa Europe, the research suggests a clear call to action: "We developed this barometer study to help us benchmark changes in consumer attitudes and take-up of contactless payments. It's good to see that users of contactless are satisfied with the technology, but it's also clear that many consumers would like to see it become more widely available."

Fast food chain McDonalds is one of the latest retailers to adopt contactless payments, rolling out the technology across all 1,200 of its UK restaurants in May 2011. There are now some 70,000 contactless acceptance points in the UK, and other brands participating currently include Subway, Pret-A-Manger, Caffe Nero, EAT, and selected outlets of Boots, Burger King, Little Chef and Clinton Cards. In addition the Co-op (both food and pharmacy chains), Wilkinson, and Starbucks have also confirmed that they will offer contactless payment facilities in the near future.

The study also identified what consumers feel are the main benefits of contactless payments:

  1. The speed in paying via contactless as opposed to cash (31%);  
  2. 53% like not having to hand their card over to a cashier;  
  3. 55% appreciate not having to carry cash in their wallet / purse;  
  4. 51% like not having to carry loose change;  
  5. 48% like not having to plan to take cash out from an ATM.

The study also highlighted some lingering misconceptions about fraud and security, with 44% expressing concern about security if their card gets stolen, suggesting that issuing banks still need to do more to educate their customers.

Austin concluded: "We are now taking the first steps on the road to becoming a 'less cash' society. And contactless cards are subject to the same level of consumer protection as all Visa cards, which means that if you are a victim of fraud you can get your money back. The cards also have in-built security features which mean they can only be used a certain number of times before a pin is required."

There are currently some 23 million contactless Visa cards across Europe, distributed by 50 issuing banks, with over 150,000 contactless terminals. Of these, some 15 million cards and 70,000 terminals are in the UK. By the end of 2011 there will be at least 30 million contactless Visa cards in circulation globally.

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