So What? How to make contactless payments matter

sowhat Ask anybody on the street whether or not they'd like to own an ipad or iphone and the answer is almost always "of course." Ask why, however, and the answer becomes more complex- a combination of technology, trends, and most importantly (and also most ignored) utility.

With technology evolving at a pace seemingly faster than the speed of light, many companies are eagerly jumping on the bandwagon, exploring new, innovative applications, services, and, for lack of a better term, do-dads, to incorporate into their businesses. For the past year or so, contactless payments, be it Cloud, NFC or other, have been on the lips of people in the card industry, waiting with baited breath for the snowball effect to begin. Headline after headline screaming the newest retailers that have "begun accepting contactless payments!!" People are counting the days until Apple launches the new iphone, hoping that it confirms what "everyone" is saying, and has NFC capabilities.

What people seem to be missing however, is why hasn't contactless payments caught on so far? Why haven't you seen people lining up in droves, begging, if not demanding, that their new iphones be NFC capable? For lack of a better term, contactless on its own really isn't that handy.

How much more difficult is it for someone to take their credit card out of their wallet and swipe than taking their phone out of their pocket? An additional 5 seconds? How much time does a retailer save in sending an email receipt versus printing a paper one? Another 5 seconds? Saving 10 seconds off the transaction time isn't going to win any accolades, rather, what companies need to understand is that contactless payment not only facilitates a payment, but it facilitates a relationship.

In order for contactless payments to truly be successful, we need to look beyond the swipe of a card and start utilizing these payment systems to interact with customers better, be it with built in coupons and rewards, or physically taking more time to engage with the customer rather than focus on processing a payment. Apple understands that concept better than almost anyone, creating new products that not only push the envelope as technological innovations, but also how they help their user.

To truly ensure that contactless payments has lasting power in this market, we need to stop taking it at face value, and start adding utility to its offerings.



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