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Cashless Commerce: Ready or Not, Here It Comes

Christian Sharrow-Blaum • August 3, 2017

If I were asked to describe the retail checkout process in one word, it would have to be, “Processing.”

Whether one buys online or in a brick-and-mortar establishment, the checkout process is considered by most to be a necessary evil.

Jumio, an identity management and credentials company, performed a study in 2015 that found 56% of smartphone users have abandoned a mobile transaction due to checkout issues.

In stores, the move to EMV cards (aka chip cards), has introduced further friction into the checkout process. Meant to beef up card security, the chip card movement is better known for machines imploring customers to “PLEASE DON’T REMOVE YOUR CARD.” During the holiday season, retailers such as CVS simply shut off chip readers in their terminals to avoid inevitably long checkout lines.

According to mobile payment processor Square, 37% or shoppers say that waiting in line is their top pain point, and more than 87% of credit card users are frustrated with the speed at which chip cards process.

All in all, this data depicts a clear need in the market: customers want a simpler and faster checkout process across channels and devices.

How, then, can businesses deliver on this need? By leveraging digital wallets on mobile devices to promote cashless commerce.

Over 60% of smartphone users have made purchases online using their phone, and almost 80% of shoppers use their phones in physical stores to look up reviews, prices, and other locations. Shoppers are on their phone throughout the buying journey already. Why make them pull out their wallets, manually enter information, and watch a system take an excessive amount of time to process their payment?

Digital wallet adoption amongst consumers has steadily grown every single year since introduction. In the UK, almost 60% of shoppers have used contactless payment methods, and the majority of shoppers prefer paying this way because it saves time.

cashless commerce
Entering card information time after time frustrates shoppers

Since launching in 2014, Apple Pay has exploded, driving customers to merchants who’ve incorporated the technology into their stores and sites. Instead of holding up the checkout line while a screen flashes “PLEASE DON’T REMOVE YOUR CARD,” these shoppers simply click a button on their phone, scan a code, and are on their way.

The largest hurdle in the way of cashless commerce adoption isn’t consumers, but merchants. The numbers are clear: shoppers’ appetite for digital payments is rapidly growing. All they need are retailers to get on board.

Eight in ten consumers would spend more with retailers that have superior technology and payment options, and Barclaycard reports that 75% of retailers who have embraced cashless commerce (only about 50% of retailers) now process an average of 30% more transactions every day. In today’s retail environment, brands need to future-proof their businesses, and cashless commerce is a massive step in that direction.

In the short-term, heavily monetized payment systems – cash and cards – aren’t going anywhere soon. It is premature to predict a specific time when cashless commerce will reign supreme, but the writing is on the wall. Traditional payment methods bring complexity and inefficiency to the buying process in a time where consumers demand simple, fast, and personalized shopping experiences.

With the way things are trending, this juxtaposition between rigid payment systems and efficient shopping experiences can only last for so long. Cashless commerce completes the digital shopping cycle and directly addresses critical customer needs, making it only a matter of “when” before “PLEASE DON’T REMOVE YOUR CARD” is a thing of the past.


Christian Sharrow-Blaum

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Christian Sharrow-Blaum

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