Contactless Continues to Conquer in 2017

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Admittedly, when I am budgeting I tend to go the old-fashioned way – cash only. If I’m out of cash I’ve hit my limit. However, the tangibility of money is quickly transitioning to digital and I may have to find new practices as technological advances deprive cash of its King title.

The progression of card payments over recent years has been obvious to all consumers — from swiping, to chip-and-pin, to contactless and digital payments. It’s been two years since Apple first introduced Apple Pay, which has become so popular that it is now featured on Google Maps when businesses accept it. Chip-and-pin processing may seem like old news to UK consumers but in 2016 it took US retail by storm. And, as I saw first-hand while I was in my hometown of Kansas City last month, hesitant consumers still have to be reminded to use the chip rather than swipe the card. Perhaps my heritage is to blame, but I am one of those hesitant consumers when it comes to contactless payments. However, the promise of financial fluidity of this year has me reconsidering my dated practices.

This blog post comes in light of Mintel’s report of European Consumer Trends of 2017, and ‘Seamless Spending’, featuring contactless payments. It’s important to note that the contactless payments were first introduced to the public nearly six years ago, but the trend is predicted to gain more traction in 2017. Multiple factors contribute to this prediction, primarily the change of consumer attitudes as the worry of security decreases and convenience increases.

The pros of contactless seem obvious, like convenience. However, this factor introduces a downside, as Mintel predicts an increase of impulse purchasing and reckless spending. This expectation presents an opportunity for businesses to adopt their own contactless systems, linked, for example, to loyalty cards. However, it may make cautious consumers think twice about switching. One big brand taking advantage is Tesco, as it introduced its very own PayQwiq app in August 2016, which is expected to be available to the general public later this year. PayQwiq, solely for use at Tesco, is comparable to Apple Pay, as it allows consumers to connect their debit and/or credit cards to the app along with their Clubcard, for a fluid, contactless, check out experience. PayQwiq is one of the first examples of a brand taking advantage of the trend to optimise use within its store. Later this year we may see other big brand names doing something similar, which would allow them to get a break on credit card processing, savings that potentially could be passed on to grateful consumers.

While wearable technology could not be denied as a major tech trend of last year, 2017 will see the trend expand into the contactless payment realm. Fitbit’s leading the way — the company acquired payment hardware firm Coin, which allows the wearable technology company to expand its capabilities of lifestyle tracking into financial fluidity. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the gadget from Fitbit, expected later this year as well as other wearable technology trends to follow suit.

As a contemporary consumer, I’m taking this all in stride and plan to adapt my spending habits for a more financially fluid 2017. I am interested to see how brands further take advantage of the opportunity and would love to hear what other consumers are thinking in light of this trend prediction. Share your thoughts with us via twitter and Facebook!