Mobile: the barrier to a contactless society

With  contactless card payments accounting for more than £2.3bn of spending in 2014, the launch of Apple Pay is a long awaited step as contactless payments go mobile.

In a relatively short period of time, shoppers have become accustomed to waiving a card over a terminal to pay for stuff, and it is not a huge leap for that card to be a phone.

It's clear that the consumer appetite for convenience and faster transactions is there - however until now we have lacked the right technologies to facilitate fast, mobile payments, both on and offline.

Enter Apple Pay…

Apple Pay UK image

Hotly-anticipated among retailers, Apple Pay will make paying for goods while in-store a simple matter of holding your phone up to a card reader while pressing the Touch ID button. It's quick, it's easy and most of all, it will bring a whole new level of mobility to mobile payments by removing the need to register for websites or spend time filling in lengthy payment forms.

However, Apple Pay is little more than a footnote in the grand scheme of things. It alone won't change how we choose to pay, but it could help to usher in a new era of truly 'contactless' payments.

Contactless payment solutions are growing and look set to accelerate further, driven by three key developments - increased consumer comfort in using non-traditional payment options; a continued shift to internet shopping; and the appearance of new, additional payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Bitcoins.

The question is just how seamless will new payment methods become. If payments are to become truly 'contactless', we will need to see the mobile barrier removed entirely.

Implanted microchips offer the most elegant solution, but remain too 'sci-fi' for most people. Biometric payments are more likely to gain mass acceptance in the short term and we are already seeing banks experiment with facial, fingerprint, and finger vein recognition.

The future of payments is an exciting and imaginative territory and it will be interesting to see how fast retailers and consumers are to embrace these new ways to pay.

This article was first published on The Wall:

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