Costumers have need for speed when it comes to payments


Customers are becoming increasingly self-sufficient  and anti-establishment when it comes to paying, according to research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). If it's more convenient and faster, shoppers are willing to break with tradition.

The study, which included retailers that make up 60% of total retail spending, suggests that self-service tills, contactless credit card payments and mobile payments are quickly becoming favoured methods of payment for shoppers and stores alike. mobile-payments

Brits show penchant for self-service
Britons are tiring of waiting in long queues at manned tills and are increasingly opting to check items out themselves. Among the organisations surveyed, one in five tills (31,506 out of 149,886) is now self-service. And it isn't just at supermarkets that offer self-service -- more than 20% of self-service tills can be found in retailers such as chemists, DIY stores and stationers.

Contactless card payments on the rise
Another payment technology that is rapidly becoming commonplace in the UK is contactless, which enables people to make payments simply by tapping a debit or credit card -- or even a contactless-enabled smartphone -- against a special reader in-store. An increasing number of check-outs now offer this as a payment option, and the BRC found that, among the retailers it surveyed, 29.4% of all tills (and 24.8% of self-service tills) are equipped with readers that support contactless card payments.

More shoppers turn to emerging payment systems
Services like PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments and various mobile wallets allow customers to pay without involving a physical bank card at all. Consumers can link their bank cards (or prepaid cards) to digital wallets and use the corresponding smartphone application to make payments at participating retailers.

Although mobile payments have gotten off to a slow start in the UK, the BRC estimates they accounted for some 150 million transactions totaling $1.2 billion in 2011.  One in three retailers that took part in the BRC research said they started accepting e-payments last year, and the BRC estimates that number is likely to rise to half of retailers by the end of 2012.

As well as offering consumers a convenient alternative to traditional card transactions, non-card payment technology is also beneficial for retailers, as the cost of processing these payments is generally much lower than that for credit and debit card transactions, according to the BRC.

Banks left in the dust?
According to the BRC, the report highlights the rapid changes that are occurring in the payments landscape and shows the need for financial institutions to move with the times. Banks used to have control over how consumers paid. Now, with the rise of mobile wallets that can be linked to reloadable prepaid cards, shoppers can circumvent banks altogether if they want to. As a result, emerging payment technologies could be "challenging the banks' market domination," said BRC general director Stephen Robertson in a statement.

"The message is, customers are choosing to use a payment method that doesn't always involve the banks and is the cheapest non-cash way for retailers to take money," Robertson said. "With the market moving away from them, the banks should be making their transaction charging regimes clearer and, above all, cheaper for retailers."

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Published: 2 August 2012