Contactless not universally convenient

Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3

Not long ago it was only at small independent coffee shops located in places like London’s Soho and trendy Shoreditch, towards the capital’s eastern end, where cash was regarded as a little bit of an unwelcome commodity. After ordering your flat white you would immediately be presented with a card payment device with the expectation that you would be paying by contactless.

To then pull out a note or some coins was almost a faux pas in these stylish, too-cool-for-cash establishments. Over time I have fallen in-line when in such places and now automatically pull out my card for payment.

This move towards paying by contactless has gone on a real tear of late with exponential growth experienced to the point that an evening out will now invariably involve me not requiring cash for the entire evening. In particularly busy places it is clear that attempting to pay by cash is something of an annoyance to the rushed-off-their-feet employees.

We have reached the point today that at some venues there is no option but to pay by contactless because a growing number of operators no longer accept cash. It is a trend that will undoubtedly continue as there is consensus among both retailers and shoppers that this is a much more convenient way to make payments than having to deal with cash.

But as good as it is for a growing number of people it is proving a bit of a problem in some quarters because not everybody is fully onboard the impending cashless society. A chat with my accountant recently revealed that he has some business clients who unbelievably do not have bank accounts.

The ability to pay is not the only point of issue for these unbanked individuals because there has also been an issue with access to cash in the first place – from a lack of ATM’s in remote and deprived areas within the UK. The number of free-to-use cash machines fell by 1,300 between February and July last year to 53,200.

This has led to the situation whereby banks are from April set to increase the subsidy they provide to the cash machine operators. In the most extreme of circumstances this subsidy could be increased from the current 30p per transaction to as much as £2.75.

While it is clear that ATM’s are not going to disappear overnight or that we will see the bulk of retail outlets go cashless any time soon it is clear which way the wind is blowing and that retailers who serve a broad demographic around the country arguably have certain social obligations alongside those that are purely economically-driven.

Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider

K3 Retail partners with businesses to provide connected technologies based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 so retailers can reach their goals now and in the future. In a size that best fits future plans wherever you need it – Cloud, Hybrid or On-premise. Our solutions drive more than 800 international retail brands from Charles Tyrwhitt and The White Company to Ryman and Sue Ryder, Hobbycraft, Wasabi and Ted Baker, K3 Retail is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and the UK’s leading Microsoft Dynamics retail partner.