Rachelle St Ledger, commercial director, retail & e-commerce at PrePay Solutions, reviews the forecast for payments technologies at the beginning of 2014
“Probably the most distinctive payments innovation that 2013 witnessed was the introduction of near field communication (NFC) payments from mobile phones.
“The rise of contactless payments without the need for a card of any kind, often known as the “mobile wallet”, is still in the early stages with only a few mainstream products, but has already prompted predictions of “the end of cash”.
“While this still seems a very unlikely prospect, developments in mobile payments are having an immediate and significant impact on the payments landscape.
“One of the biggest mobile contactless payments launches of the year was that of EE’s Cash on Tap, a product facilitated by PrePay Solutions, which combines a phone app with NFC technology to enable payments from mobile phones in-store and online. Solutions like this one have the additional advantage of allowing customers to manage their account, check their balance, load more funds and monitor their transaction history whilst on the move. This mobile product launch was one of the earliest steps towards reducing the need for an equivalent plastic card.
“Another big step forward in the payments arena stems from companies’ willingness to integrate their multi-channel gifting solutions. Where in the past, companies would offer a plastic gift card and sometimes an online “virtual gift card”, as we approach Christmas 2013 many of the biggest retailers will instead integrate their whole offering into a multi-channel scheme. This means that any gifting or promotional product will be valid across all the channels.
“As we move into the New Year, the payments industry will build upon the successes of 2013. We predict contactless mobile payments – and the integration of mobile devices as a tool for managing spending – will move into the mainstream, bringing us a step closer to a “cashless society”.
“One of the more exciting elements of next year however, will be the rise and rise of multi-channel. The growth of shopping across different channels has continued apace throughout the past year and we will soon see a division emerging between those retailers that can keep pace with the market and those who are too slow off the mark.”