The demise of cheques in Western Europe is set to accelerate over the next few years, with around 60% of retailers no longer accepting them by 2015 as electronic cards and mobile payments gain in popularity, according to research commissioned by Visa.
The Centre for Retail Research - which surveyed over 300 retailers in France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK - found the weighted average of retailers in these countries that do not accept cheques in 2008 is 20.3%.
By 2012-15 this is expected to rise to 59.3%, with more than three-quarters of merchants in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK refusing to accept the paper-based payment format.
In contrast, the weighted average of electronic payments is expected to rise from 51.7% to 58.7% by 2012-15. Currently, the highest levels of acceptance are in Norway (68%) and the UK (65.3%) with lowest figures found in Italy (43.2%) and Germany (43.9%) where cash payments are more typical, although Visa says this is changing.
Contactless payments could have the biggest impact over the next few years, with phone-enabled payments expected to be accepted by 32.7%, contactless cards by 26.4% and keyfobs or tags by 19.1%.
Asked why mobile payments will be of interest to customers, 73% cite convenience, with 68.1% saying phones are now key pieces of equipment carried everywhere and used for many types of communication.
The research also found that whilst Internet shopping will continue to grow in popularity, it will not herald the end of bricks and mortar stores, with only around 20% of retailer's turnover accounted for online by 2012-15.
The highest proportion of retail sales, 25.5%, is forecast to occur in Norway, followed by the UK with 22.4%. In contrast, German and Italian retailers expect just 16.7%.
Retailers will turn to new technologies to attract customers with automated self scanning introduced by around 22% of retailers by 2012-15. RFID tags are likely to be introduced by 34% of retailers to help them make better use of product inventory management and will be used to offer customer promotions.
Meanwhile almost 50% or retailers expect to use technology to send customer targeted promotions via e-mails and text messages using demographics and loyalty card information.
Almost 60% of retailers think the overwhelming purpose of retail Web sites will be transactional, while a fifth think they will be information tools for customers. But research will increasingly be carried out over the Internet, with 71.3% searching online by 2012-15, up from 45.3% in 2008.
Steve Perry, EVP, Visa Europe, says: "The study shows that while changes may occur over a relatively short time period, the Store of the Future is likely to be shaped by a range of technologies in the digital era, but all will have a common goal - to create greater convenience for the customer and in turn achieve stronger differentiation and business success for the retailer."