29 July 2016
Paul Underwood

Plastic Card Perspective

Paul Underwood - Thames Card Technology

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Cash is dying, mobile is crying, plastic is still the king

12 June 2014  |  6342 views  |  0

For years the promise that ‘this will be the year of mobile payments’ has dominated industry news feeds. It’s true that mobile will eventually succeed the humble plastic card, but quite when remains the big question. Interoperability challenges, deployment complexities, security concerns and the seemingly endless cycle of stakeholder positioning and repositioning all contribute to the challenges faced in using your phone to pay for whatever it is you want to buy.

Meanwhile, the UK Cards Association recently announced that credit and debit plastic card spending has for the first time broken the £0.5 trillion mark. In 2013, us Brits spent more than £520bn via debit and credit cards, accounting for close to three quarters of all UK retail spending, with cheques and cash accounting for just a quarter of transactions. 

Few could have predicted such growth.  In 2003 card spending reached just £244bn; less than half what it is today. This is, in large part, testament to the success of the projects undertaken by UK banks, card manufacturers and the wider UK card industry.  Cast your mind back to the days of magstripe and consider quite how far we have come with migration to EMV. Contactless is also having a huge impact on the usage of cards for transactions usually associated with cash.

Younger generations are also undoubtedly a factor in this growth. A recent infographic showed that 48% of UK students preferred paying with debit card over all other methods of payment and a research report demonstrated that 58% of consumers are now aware of contactless payments.

Payment is not about innovation for innovation's sake. There is no rush to deliver mobile payments if the demand is not there and it does not solve a problem. Currently, cards remain more convenient, simpler, quicker and, in many cases, more secure. Mobile’s time will undoubtedly come, but for now, payment cards still rule the roost. 

 

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