Digital payments are now commonplace, thanks in part to the greater number of contactless payment cards in circulation and charges no longer being applied by retailers for low value transactions. Card payments are finally more convenient than cash, with the stats showing that the use of cash is in decline.
But there are still occasions when people still use cash, such as low-value transactions for things like a bus journey, a coffee or a haircut, or if a shop has an issue with its internet connection. These types of situations are a barrier to making digital payments the default payment option.
But, as we explore below, there are ways to minimise the situations where cash is the preferred option, reducing the need for physical cash and enabling digital payments to become part of the day-to-day.
With many card payment devices relying on reliable internet connection, those that requite W-Fi or a wired connection are vulnerable to an outage.
However, the increasingly affordable card readers such as iZettle and PayPal Here, can function via mobile data networks. Using a mobile app, the devices can still function even if the main internet service is down, by switching to mobile data.
For smaller shops without a dedicated payment network, this means they won’t have to refuse digital payments from customers while their ISP fixes their service. And customers caught unawares won’t have to make a dash to the nearest ATM to make their purchases.
Bring easy digital payments to everyday services
One of the best ways to promote the use of digital payment for everyday purposes is by making it the default option for essential services, such as public transport or taxation.
London’s Oyster card system, for example, has been hugely successful in enabling people to travel on the Underground and overland train networks, and more recently on buses. Fares are cheaper than with cash, and charges are capped if the number of journeys taken within a day exceeds the relevant travel card value.
Millions of people use Oyster cards every day and Transport for London extended the contactless technology on station gates and bus scanners to also include contactless debit and credit cards as well as smartphones and smart watches a few years ago, making it even easier for people that don’t live in London, or have misplaced their Oyster card, to still use public transport.
More recently, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) added Visa cards to its contactless transit payments initiative, SimplyGo, allowing commuters to use their Mastercard or Visa contactless bank cards or mobile phones to pay for travel on public transport.
As well as convenience, commuters can also benefit from being able to view their travel expenditure and history by registering for an account on the TransitLink SimplyGo portal. The project will be one of Visa’s largest implementations of contactless acceptance for transit globally, with 30,000 acceptance points.
Educate about the benefits
Another strategy that digital payment providers, retailers, service providers and government can use to encourage everyday use of digital payments is via education.
Effectively communicating the advantages of digital payments over physical cash – such as greater security, being easier to trace, speed and convenience – will go a long way in ensuring that digital payments are the default option, and see the use of cash diminish further.
In addition, while many people have contactless payment cards, they will often think of cash as the only other payment option. This is despite many smartphones and smart watches being equipped with contactless payment technology.
Helping consumers understand the capabilities of their devices will help them consider other forms of digital payment, meaning physical cash becomes less relevant.