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Saying NO to card payments loses customers. Obvious, you'd have thought

It's a lovely summer day in York, UK. Well not really, as it's the UK and in the North, but put that to one side. "Let's hire a boat and take the kids on the river" - what a great idea! Ok, set aside the fact it's £25 for 30 minutes - I'm a grumpy ageing dad and it's probably reasonable in today's prices... well, maybe...

"What do you mean you don't take cards?!" I ask astonished. Embarrassed, we move to one side, and me and my wife check how much paper money we have. 2 x £20 notes. Ok, not ideal as its real money and not the "never never" variety that means I can pretend it didn't cost a penny for at least a month. But at least we have enough cash, sorted :-)

"What do you mean we have to give you an additional £30 as a deposit?!" Oh, and of course, that's got to be cash too.

As we wander to the cash point (10 minutes walk into the shopping centre of town) I can't help consider how many customers these guys lose this way, especially spontaneous customers which I'd guess is the vast majority of their passing trade given its a tourist spot. And in this day and age where an mPOS is so basically simple to get and use.

By the time I've passed the cash point I've actually completely forgotten about the boat trip as now the kids want ice cream. We may go back, but I doubt it. Can't be bothered now.

As I write I wonder how long will it take to eradicate such antiquated merchant behaviour, in favour of an easy payment experience? Surely it's not that hard?
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Comments: (5)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 01 August, 2016, 19:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Interesting post. 

Just a couple of days, I asked SQUARE how many customers really abandon a purchase because merchant does not accept credit cards. You can find the tweet thread here:

https://twitter.com/s_ketharaman/status/757657019230846980

I've no truck with your boat merchant (pun unintended) but is it possible that (1) he does not accept credit cards because he finds the 1-2% MSC too high or (2) he cannot accept credit cards because he hasn't found any bank willing to extend a merchant-acquirer account to his business? 

Not sure if SQUARE has entered UK but, as I'd highlighted in this blog post, other mPOS providers may not be able to help a merchant stuck with issue #2 above. 

Matt Scott
Matt Scott - RenovITe Technologies Inc - London 02 August, 2016, 01:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Depends on volumes I guess but given the squeeze on Interchange I'd expect to see this reflected in lower MSC. Plus they should also consider the cost and risk implications of a cash-only operation. Did you "float" the idea with them? Go with the flow...
Dean Wallace
Dean Wallace - ACI - Global 02 August, 2016, 07:46Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I screamed away. Guess they have cash flow issues.
Guillaume Metman
Guillaume Metman - SunGard - Brussels 02 August, 2016, 09:07Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Well, maybe "cash only" has other benefits.

a) simplicity of the method in itself (even illiterate people can count cash piles)

b) simplicity of having a single method vs having to support several methods (cash + card + whatever else)

c) and of course cash has hidden benefits ;-)

Dean Wallace
Dean Wallace - ACI - Global 02 August, 2016, 20:00Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I'm intrigued by the "hidden benefits"!!