the future of payments: how it can pay to be ahead of the game

changes

If you’ve been keeping an ear to the ground in the world of technology you will probably already be aware that the way we process transactions, both as a consumer and a merchant, are changing daily at a growing pace. It’s always good to be aware of the changes taking place but we want to analyse whether adopting new payment technologies early can really make a tangible difference to your bottom line.

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In 9000BC both grain and cattle where used a currency, the world of finance, needless to say, has come a long way since the times of trade and bartering but the underlying principles of transactions in an open economy remain the same. By 1760BC currency had officially been administrated by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, this was the first steps towards both a free economy and the unfortunate side effect of monetary taxes. In the time between 600 and 700BC the first coins were produced, this type of currency, along with bank notes (7th century) were the latest innovation until the modern century where the production and adoption of the magnetic strip card in the 1970s saw a real shift in the way we see money, not now a tangible asset but simply an arbitrary number living inside the mind of a computer. This major step was integral in forming the basis for new payment technologies, now the task of innovating business transactions was reduced to simply finding ways to securely modify these arbitrary numbers using cards, chips and hardware we carry around in our wallet or pockets.

Credit card payment - We design responsively across devices, creating a brand’s entire online presence built around content, mobile and product.

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The big changes to the way we use currency in business-to-consumer transactions are being driven by silicon valley technology companies, hardware and software providers who are innovating with mobile and contactless transactions and groups employing your biometric data to digitally ‘sign’ transactions, allowing for maximised protection against fraud but this also will inevitably raise both questions and eyebrows regarding privacy concerns in the future.

join the gang

With any large-scale change to banking and finance there also comes a question of how and when the new technologies are to be adopted and by whom. Apple Pay, the contactless transaction technique incorporated into the latest iPhones and Apple Watches is a huge innovation to come out of Cupertino, building on the foundations of mobile payments pioneered by other manufacturers, but to get a stronger foothold and push the technology into the mainstream Apple need the backing of the majority, if not all of the world’s major banks. The second side of Apple’s struggle is to win across business owners, we’re not just talking about supermarket giants but to be a fully effective and viable payment option the small business owner needs to adopt the new technologies in their droves to make Apple’s payment venture a success.

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One thing is clear, payments are going to change over the coming years, it’s likely that we’ll see the end of cash in developed countries before the end of the current century, Denmark has already passed laws to allow retail stores to refuse cash payments, the first stores to adopt this will be able to take the step at the beginning of 2016, with this sort of aggressive innovation we could see the end of cash earlier than we think. The question most people will ask is “What does this mean for me?” the answer depends on your demographic, will your customers be ready to make the changes? Will your customer want to use the new technologies early?

This is where you can let the changes in payment technology help you promote your business, as we’re at the start of these huge changes, especially when it comes to mobile and contactless technology, it’s the perfect time for your business to become an ‘early adopter’ and make some of the necessary changes so you can attract consumers who wish to use the new payment methods. It might be inconceivable to think that customers would choose a business based on new payment methods but that’s the world of business today and a truth about society. As an insight into this mentality we can use an example whereby it was announced that all but one major bank in the UK were to offer their customers the opportunity to use Apple Pay when it launches in the UK coming July this year.

The one bank that is not offering Apple Pay at the UK launch is Barclays, who, just seconds after the announcements were inundated with messages on Twitter with hundred of customers expressing outrage and some customers of 30+ years claiming they were willing to move banks to take advantage of the new technologies.

Which lead to replies like Roger’s here:

Unfortunately for Barclays, Nationwide were more than happy to step in and take it from there:

This of course is just one example of hundreds but it’s a good test case to show just how much today’s consumers value the innovations that are entering the market to make their lives easier and more convenient. Consumers from all walks of life see the value in the changes to payment technology and the positive changes it can make on their day to day lives, to extend that, it’s important to these consumers that they can use their newly acquired payment technologies every day to get maximum efficiencies from it. Early adopters of mobile payments are more likely, then,  to choose a business which is ready to accept these new types of transactions over ones who haven’t made the initial investment early to put this in place. In that way these changes you can make for a small investment can become a very powerful marketing force for your business.

Woman paying with NFC technology on mobile phone - Apple Pay

If you’re ready to make these changes in your business and want to find innovative ways to let everyone know about it we can have a chat to see how we can best reach your customers either over the web or through traditional print marketing and beyond, to get the conversation started give us a call on 0191 221 2277 or use our new Project Planner to give your marketing strategy the best start possible.

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