A Step Closer to a Contactless World?

The relentless growth of mobile has helped reinvent consumer engagement in ways that up until a few years ago, would seem unfathomable. We now get our daily fix of news, access information, watch videos, complain to customer services, and pretty much buy anything we want with a few simple gestures on a device. The seemingly insatiable appetite for being connected to an eco-system where everything is accessed, controlled and consumed via mobile devices is a constant source of discussion, one that was further fuelled by Apple’s recent announcement.

While Apple Pay may take some time to establish itself globally, it’s a huge leap forward towards realizing the potential of what mobile payment systems can offer. Admittedly in the West, we’re already playing catch-up, as contactless payment functionality has been commonplace in countries like Japan, Korea and China for some time now.

Closer to home, the UK champion of Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies has been Barclaycard, who’s played an important role in removing the barriers to adoption for alternative payment processing systems. With provisioning firmly in place thanks to a plethora of enthusiastic retailers who’ve rolled-out NFC pay points, consumers have started to come around thanks to convenience and ease of use.

Naysayers may still dispute just how much more convenient it is to tap and hold a card or mobile device over a reader, as opposed to entering a pin ID. But one company in particular has taken a ‘mobile-first’ approach to the core of their business, doing their part to further encourage the uptake of mobile transactions. PayPal’s Mobile Express Checkout is a simple, two-click mobile payment system designed to help retailers offer a faster, more secure checkout experience on devices. The evangelism of the PayPal brand will surely help mobile transactions gain further traction, but how soon NFC and other mobile payment technologies become mainstream remains to be seen.

As these platforms continue to develop, what I do know is that mobile ubiquity is here to stay. To maintain their competitive edge, brands have no other choice but to get onboard with mobile-readiness in a way that makes sense for their business. So whether it’s adopting mobile payments, or something much more basic like ensuring their website is mobile-optimized, these gains are what will allow brands to adapt to the needs of what users want from future e-tail experiences.

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