Pete Alcock, Head of Product Marketing at NMI
The pandemic of 2020 and beyond has given the roll-out of contactless payments a huge boost. With the aggressive spread of Covid across the world, governments advised citizens to minimise social interactions. When shopping, we were told to limit the touching of potentially contaminated surfaces, particularly during the payment process and especially when paying with cash or using a PIN pad.
Contactless played a vital role in minimising risk, to the extent that the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommended the use of contactless payments whenever possible, to reduce transmission possibilities via banknotes. And, since the onset of the pandemic and the increased interest in contactless payments, there has also been an uptick in usage. In the UK, there were 1.5 billion contactless card transactions in July 2022, 25.5% more than the 1.2 billion in July 2021. The total value of contactless transactions was £23.4 billion in July, a 57% increase from £14.9 billion in July 2021. Across the pond, the US now has the most contactless cards of any market in the world.
Consumer Sentiments and Behaviours
Convenience and speed are at the top of the list when it comes to why consumers prefer contactless payments. In the vending setting specifically, this becomes even more important, to ensure the checkout processes are intuitive and prompt to deliver on this customer demand. For some shoppers, even interacting with a cashier is reason enough to shop elsewhere. Businesses exclusively offering payment methods that require contact with a cashier or shared machine like a card reader deter 41% of consumers. There’s immense opportunity for businesses to not only enable contactless options at checkout but also incorporate kiosks into their store plans to reduce the interactions between shoppers and cashiers.
Business Expectations Around Contactless Payments
Not only is consumer demand for contactless continuing to grow but retailers and merchants are also delivering more contactless payment options, including small businesses. 59% of small businesses are already cashless or plan to shift to using only digital payments in the next two years. These new methods of payments are also fundamental to businesses’ growth, especially amid economic uncertainty. In fact, 73% of small businesses believe that accepting forms of digital payments are important for the growth of their business. Accepting contactless payments is no longer a nice to have – it’s a necessity to remain successful in this highly competitive market.
The Future of Contactless Payments at Kiosks
Looking at the future of kiosks and how they can enable these contactless payments, there are a handful of benefits outside of delivering on consumer demand and business needs. At the top of the list of challenges facing businesses, especially in the hospitality and retail industries, are staffing issues. In fact, more than 250,000 seasonal workers are needed in the hospitality industry alone, to meet demand heading into the holiday season. Those who invest in contactless-enabled kiosks will be set up for success throughout the end of the year and into 2023.
It’s actually never been easier, or cheaper, to integrate contactless payment into a vending machine or kiosk. Off-the-shelf devices from Payter, OTI, Crane and others have built-in GSM modems to take care of communications – they just require a low-cost, data-only SIM card – and most are available pre-loaded with the software to communicate with a payment gateway for authorisations of the contactless transactions. This is why we’re seeing growth in innovative self-service projects such as large-scale laundromats, full-service coffee stations and elegant parking payment kiosks at motorway services.
Take Impulsify for example. This retail technology company provides the tools, data-driven insights and retail services to help hoteliers and other non-retailers create easily managed, highly profitable self-service retail outlets that improve property value, grow incremental revenue and improve the guest experience. Impulsify’s ShopPoP – in-store, guest-facing kiosk – allows guests to grab and go without assistance, reducing typical front desk burdens associated with offering a lobby retail store.
Not only does this type of kiosk alleviate staffing pressures and reduce front desk traffic burden, but it also accepts contactless payments through Apple Pay, Android and Google Pay and NFC Tap, delivering on patrons’ preferences to complete transactions this way. This approach to kiosks also increases revenue by eliminating abandoned sales and inadvertent theft that occur when no associate is immediately available.
As businesses navigate heightened consumer demand for a seamless payment experience while also looking for relief amid the current labour crisis, they must consider the latest innovations in contactless payments technology to ensure a user-friendly process for all shoppers and patrons.