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What's the future for payment technology?

August 11, 2017

There’s news today from The AA that older people are resisting paying for parking by card or mobile phone. That’s of interest to us as obviously, payment and technology is a big part of what we do – so we thought we’d take a look, in a bit more detail, at the future of payment methods.


With Sky News reporting that over 1.4 billion payments were made by card last year, it's difficult to remember when we didn't pay by card.  However, it's fair to say that advances in technology have changed our payment  habits dramatically over the last 50 years!


Back in the 1960s, the first cash machine was installed in North London. In a useless piece of pub quiz trivia, the first person to use it was comedy actor Reg Varney. Clearly, he was able to remember his six digit personal identification number at the time and the cash point went on to achieve success with a global roll-out and the reduction to four digit (more memorable) pin numbers.


Nowadays, there are around 3.5 million ATMs in the world. That includes those built into banks and retail stores as well as the smaller standalone versions which are often found in convenience stores in the UK. That’s a lot of options for getting access to cash.


But obviously, technology and our demands have moved on and payment by card appeared in the 1980s. Later, technology moved us on to the more routine use of the World Wide Web by consumers and the need to authorise transactions online became evident. By 2000, Paypal was proving a successful and trustworthy way of managing online payment.


In the forecourt market, HTEC started rolling out the initial version of the hugely reliable and secure Gempay Payment Solution. The terminals, usually linked to the in-store EPOS, allowed customers to pay for fuel and any additional purchases by card – both debit and credit card. We’re now rolling out Gempay 3 – a sleeker, quicker payment solution with in-built promotional screens. 

Payment card technology has moved on more recently to contactless payment; growing in popularity, mainly due to its ease of use, although limits to the value of the transaction, mean it‘s not ideal in every situation.  Particularly in forecourts, the average spend on fuel takes it payment over the UK contactless transaction limit, but in the convenience sector where the average spend is £6.13, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), contactless is a really useful tool and increasing numbers of small retailers are offering contactless as a payment option.

 Moving forward, we’re looking at how payment technology can work for convenience retailers. Payment by Apple Pay and the slightly more popular Andriod Pay is becoming more frequent, and some leading retailers are looking at how people can pay and scan using their mobile phone. In-store connectivity appears to be a barrier to increased use, but that’s an issue that is likely to be improved in time. It also limits the interaction of customer and sales staff – actually the two don’t even need to say hello in some cases; something which really needs further consideration by retailers as customers do like a level of interaction, and a smiley face and friendly experience can add value. 


Apple’s use of the thumb or fingerprint on their mobile phones has also led to a number of developers considering seriously if the technology could be used to manage payment in-store. The benefits of self check outs are limited when it comes to products which have age restrictions, but the individual thumb print would resolve that meaning a quicker, less staff intensive check out.


Or there’s the James Bond-style retina scan. A number of developers are looking to make the most of the individuality of retinas to link to payment methods, reducing the risk of fraud as it would be pretty difficult for someone else to use your retina without your permission. And it seems that main stream use of retina pay might not be that far away, with Samsung building it in to it's aleady popular Android Pay app, so keep your eyes peeled!


So, while we’re moving forward in the retail sector, it’s disappointing to see in today’s story from The AA, that some older people are sticking with cash to pay for parking, even when the machine doesn’t give change and they are, in effect, overpaying for the privilege. Days of running to the nearest shop, frantically requesting change for the parking machine and rushing back to your car before you get caught without a ticket are seriously coming to an end. Payment apps and voice activated payment have got to be the way forward.


But in retail, the range of options in development are moving us much further, much quicker. But there’ll always be a place for cash, so those older people who are resisting technology can resist away. Their cash is still welcome in retail!

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HTEC Limited is a company registered in England and Wales. Our registered office address is George Curl Way, Southampton, Hampshire,

SO18 2RX, United Kingdom. Registration number is 1486255.

HTEC Limited is the wholly owned subsidiary of Universe Group plc, a company registered in England and Wales at the same address with registration number 2639726.

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