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Please insert your card into the contactless reader

13 October 2010  |  5175 views  |  2

This blog was created while Mark was working at The Logic Group.

As more brands adopt contactless technology, how many consumers and staff at the check-out really understand its benefits and how to use it?

Recently Neira Jones, Head of the Payment Security Team at Barclaycard, reported in an interview with Grocery Trader that there are now around eight million cards with contactless functionality across the Barclaycard Group, she also confirmed that Barclaycard “see contactless being as safe as cash, if not more so.”

Although the technology is undeniably useful and will save time at the point of payment, when you walk into a shop or cafe offering contactless payment technology, how many people have you actually seen using it?  For example, adopting the guise of a secret shopper I went to pay for a coffee at a cafe which accepts contactless payments, I asked the attendant how to use the terminal. This caused a certain amount of consternation and as they struggled to come up with an answer. I was told to insert my card into the reader.  It seems that outside of the payment industry (and tech savvy shoppers in the capital), people still have an inherent lack of understanding of the technology.

The UK Card Association has produced educational material on contactless technology, however I wonder how many people will actively read this.  Other than that, it’s just down to the Barclaycard rollercoaster and waterslide ads, which branding-wise are excellent, but from an educational perspective, potentially less so. And that’s from the consumer perspective – educating staff is a different matter completely.  However, Barclays is forging ahead and will be automatically upgrading customers with contactless cards, while other banks such as The Co-operative Bank, Egg, RBS and Lloyds Banking Group are set to follow suit and issue to selected customers.

Over a year ago, the head of business strategy for MasterCard UK and Ireland expressed the importance of education to support the use of contactless technology in a round table event. He cautioned that people should not “underestimate the amount of education that needs to be done".  This refers to both the retail industry and the consumer, but a year on; there is only limited evidence of this for the “man in the street.”  Education is still a passive process in this story, and it seems that there is a belief that as the number of cards issued, and outlets accepting contactless reaches a critical mass, the public will just accept the technology as common place.  This is probably the case, but the widespread acceptance will take a great deal longer than with a little encouragement.  Even with Chip and PIN I remember a proactive education campaign, and being told that “I ♥ (heart) PIN!”

It’s not just consumers and staff that are still in the dark on contactless – merchants too are still trying to understand what’s involved from conception to installation.  The Logic Group’s solutions handles more than £135 billion worth of transactions and many of our clients are becoming increasingly interested in contactless technology. Indeed, some are either running pilot projects or using windfalls like an innovations budget to install contactless payment systems today.  At the planning stage though, timescales need to be carefully considered when merchants are looking to install contactless technology because it can take a two to three month period, from the moment they make the decision to its launch in store. Many are forgetting that with most integrated systems, hardware must be replaced and software enhanced; a shift which must be carefully planned to avoid any disruptions to service.

The industry needs to effectively educate and engage with consumers to drive wide scale adoption and more importantly use of the technology.  Within the payments industry contactless technology is becoming old news, but for everybody outside of the industry it is a new development and the focus must be on engaging and educating the masses on the security, ease and benefits of contactless payments to encourage use of the technology on a daily basis. 

EPOS terminal - understanding contactless technology TagsPaymentsRetail banking

Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 14 October, 2010, 09:12

Even as far back as two years ago, I faced no problems using contactless cards at a Pret A Manger, Krispy Kreme and a couple of other Canary Wharf stores located in the 500 meter radius of Barclays' HQ building. Their attendants were well educated on contactless card readers and point-of-sale equipment.

Like charity, maybe training also begins at home and diminishes in intensity the farther you go from the center!


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Joel Constantineau
Joel Constantineau - Desjardins - Montreal | 18 October, 2010, 15:02

It shows how far we are of NFC mPayment.

An experience we made at a merchant store that accepts contactless payment shows that they think that mPayment method is another type of card that they do not accept. The clerk was looking suspicious when we used this method of payment, no matter if the transaction was accepted.

Education is basic for those who are the main actors of payment acceptance. But who are responsible to educate? The POS suppliers? The Processors? The Acquirers? The Issuers? The payment networks? The equipement manufacturers? Today, the word of mouth and trial and error methods are the only officiel training they get.

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