The move from cash-led to cash-less has, undoubtedly, fundamentally shifted how we pay for goods and services.
The additional shift from PIN to PIN-less (via tap and pay) has further changed behavior in a very short space of time.
However, while consumers are becoming happy to tap their cards against low-figure payments, this is down to the fact that when paying, (to borrow from the great Paddy McGuinness and ‘Take Me Out’), the power is in their hands.
This is important when you consider how sacrosanct [their own] money is to most people – it’s such a critical part of how we live, who we are, how we define ourselves, that it’s something we hold very dear.
We’re defined by what we have, and what we haven’t. We get the jitters when paying for something by card takes too long – is there a problem with the machine? Am I being charged twice? Has my account been emptied without my knowing?
Anyone who’s ever fallen foul of a dodgy card machine at a till and suffered the ignominy of having their credit called into question – rather than the tech – will attest to this latter worry.
It’s here where the challenge with tap and go payment has a problem; and it’s one on the shop or restaurant floor. The customer wants complete control over how their money is spent, and wants reassurance every step of the way.
If we want to use contactless payment, we will, but the action itself must be our own.
I’m not suggesting this is commonplace, far from it, but I don’t want to presume that the person wafting my bank card at the machine has typed in the right amount and hasn’t stuck a one at the front of it. More than anything, it’s just good manners to use someone else’s card transparently.
Contactless has become so second nature that half-assed, ennui-ridden shop staff just take your card and pay with it, without either showing you the figure you’re paying for (until the till roll is handed over), or asking if you want to go PIN-free.
They wouldn’t take your wallet out of your hand, take some notes out and put some coins back, expecting this to be okay. Why should it be okay to act similarly with a bit of plastic?
Innovation is driving every aspect of our lives, but those who are responsible for its implementation must understand how to use it – not just from a technological point of view, but from a social and behavioral perspective.
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