Have you got a new bank/credit card recently? If so, the chances are that it will have one of those funny little logos that encourage you to wave it at an epos terminal so you can make ‘contactless’ payment. And the chances are that at least one of the people in the queue behind you will pay in the same manner.
There is a huge increase in the number of contactless cards across Europe. MasterCard says that contactless transactions in Europe increased by 174% (year on year) in the last quarter of 2014. In the UK, the amount spent via contactless cards has increased threefold over the last year, reaching a figure of £2.32billion last year.
The technology involved in making it easier for people to pay for everything is a huge and growing area of technology business. It’s a far cry from the days when payments were rung up on a cash register. In fact, I think we have some younger members of staff at 9-20 who haven’t seen a mechanical cash register!
Google ‘payment by iPhone’ and you’ll see what exactly why. Lots of the results are for card-readers, devices for shop-keepers which the purchaser simply slots his/her credit card into and then keys in a pin number. Yet our search was for payment by iPhone….and that’s here now.
In fact, from the end of last year, new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch wearers began to be able to pay using these devices. Apple Pay is clearly designed to encourage us all to make our lives revolve even more around their quasi-ubiquitous devices. The technology involved includes: near field communication (NFC) antenna, Touch ID, Passbook, and what Apple calls the Secure Element, in effect a dedicated chip that stores encrypted payment information. What is a wallet or purse for nowadays? Keeping your credit cards possibly, but it’s increasingly the case that you won’t use cash for many purchases.
You can be certain that neither Apple nor Mastercard (nor Visa come to that) are going to give up their markets. Their business imperatives mean that the technology will continue to evolve, with revolutionary spurts taking one or other (or perhaps a new entrant to the market) ahead of the others. All this technology requires people to invent it, develop and refine it and, of course, to market it – an area where Apple hold, if you’ll pardon the pun, most of the cards.
Scotland has a burgeoning reputation in the field of digital technology. Here, at 9-20, we are seeing more and more clients seeking those rare animals who understand mobile and have both the technical skills and the vision to make it even more central to our private and professional lives. More power to their collective elbows. Mind you, I will miss my rather nice leather wallet.
Laura Armstrong - Director - 9-20 Technology