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Contactless payment takes off

News, 12 February 2015

LONDON: Retailers are seeing the benefits of the rapid uptake of contactless card payments in faster payment times, shorter queues and improved customer satisfaction.

A couple of recent reports have confirmed the progress that contactless is making in the UK. According to the UK Cards Association, the value of spending on contactless cards leapt 255% in 2014 to reach £2.32bn.

And Barclaycard said that the number of contactless transactions – both debit and credit – made by its cardholders more than doubled in the past year, growing 108% in 2014.

Mark Fabes, IT Director at McDonald's UK, told Marketing Week: "Anything we can do to simplify the customer experience and reduce transaction time is worth considering."

He explained that while it could take six to seven seconds to process a cash transaction, the time was cut to only one or two seconds with contactless.

"The difference of 5-6 seconds might not sound a lot but, as we serve more than three million customers, this makes a massive difference both in reducing queues and increasing customer satisfaction," he said.

While these are simple practical benefits for retailers, Barclaycard reported that its contactless innovations were also driving brand loyalty.

"When we launch new ways to pay through contactless, we've seen the highest levels of brand consideration, demonstrating the interest from consumers and attractiveness of our contactless innovations," said chief marketing officer Katherine Whitton.

If contactless card payments are now mainstream, then mobile payments by smartphone may not be too far behind – consulting firm Deloitte expects that the largest card issuers in the UK will activate NFC-smartphone payments by the end of this year.

Shell has announced a variation on this which will enable drivers to pay through a smartphone app when filling up at the 1,000 petrol stations it operates across the UK.

Michael Hominick, retail marketing manager at Shell UK, said customers would be able to pay without leaving their car. "Those who want to go in store and pay or purchase other items will still be able to, with the benefit of reduced queues," he added.

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Retail Times, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff