The introduction of contactless payments on the TfL network is quite remarkable. Coming only a week after Apple, the most influential technology company on the planet, announced it was entering the digital payments market with Apple Pay,it’s a testament to the foresight of TfL that they have been able to accomplish this whilst other businesses, major outlets included, lag behind.
The measured approach to delivering this project began last December when London buses went cashless. By introducing the new system to the Underground network months later, this provided an element of trial and error to make sure the implementation of the system across the network went as smoothly as possible. In the months following this roll-out, there have been no major incidents where the new system has had a detrimental impact on the commuters who use it.
So, is this merely a sign of things to come?Will contactless payments be the future for every aspect of our society? Probably not, the notion of a completely cashless society is unlikely. In theory, we could see some cities try to replace cash butit’s hard to imagine smaller provincial towns and the wider world jumping on the bandwagon just yet.
What is clear is that in some parts of society, going cashlessis a very practical and beneficial option. NFC technology is not a new idea but examples such as TfL are proof that the technology is something that we can expect to grow in popularity, as it finds new niches.
It’s likely that as we move forward, we’ll see more examples of cash being phased out as further technological innovations make it even more convenient for consumers to pay via mobile.
The million dollar question is where the next market for cashless will be? Will retailers finally embrace mobile payments and roll them out across their stores? There remains the question of putting in place a business case that makes developing new terminals an affordable option for businesses.
However, as NFC technology proliferates across the smart phone market, increasing numbers of consumers will become familiar with it and will begin to expect it be offered as a payment method. A smart business should plan aheadand consider NFC to help them to stand out from the crowd. In the hugely competitive retail sector where every pound is precious, being the first to offer true NFC technology might go a long way to secure market share.