Procurement · 2 March 2017

Small businesses urged to invest in contactless payment

Contactless payment
Contactless payment technology could bring sales opportunities as well as security benefits

Small business owners yet to invest in contactless payment technology may wish to reconsider, as new figures demonstrate the power of convenience to UK shopping habits.

Data from Barclaycard’s “Contactless Spending Index” showed contactless card transactions in Britain’s supermarkets up by 136 per cent over the last 12 months.

An increase to the cap for individual purchases – from £20 to £30 in September 2015 – alongside swift transaction times seven seconds quicker than chip and pin have seen “touch and go” payments make up 55 per cent of all card sales over £30.

Further figures from the UK Cards Association (UKCA) have shown contactless payment sales total £25bn in 2016 – an increase of £17.25bn from the previous year.

The growth of contactless payment could indicate sales opportunities for grocers and the owners of small food stores, as Tami Hargreaves, commercial director for digital consumer payments at Barclaycard, suggested new levels of convenience had shifted the way Britain shops.

“The days of the weekly food shop are gone for many Brits,” Hargreaves said in a statement.

“While a couple of hours spent browsing store aisles will always be preferred by some, there is a clear shift towards speed and convenience, coupled with several ‘top-up’ shops throughout the week.”

The research identified “silver spenders” as driving the growth of cashless payments, with the number of consumers aged over 60 using contactless increasing by 64 per cent in the last 12 months.

The hospitality industry is one sector experiencing greater use of contactless. According to Barclaycard, hotels and motels witnessed a 100 per cent increase of contactless sales in 2016.

PayPal reported in 2016 that owners of small firms not investing in new technologies could be rapidly losing sales, as they fall behind customer expectations.

Security benefits of cashless payments

Small business owners could also see security benefits to investing in contactless payment. A recent study from online transaction gateway Sage Pay found that a quarter of company owners had cash stolen by an employee – contributing to a yearly black hole of £9.4bn as a result of handling physical money.

Over half of owners also admitted they spent at least an hour each week paying in cash to a bank or counting money.

Commenting on the research, Seamus Smith, chief executive of Sage Pay, warned that “small businesses must keep pace with change”.

“Cash is bad for business. It’s costly and inconvenient, and appetite is growing for more innovative and flexible payment methods,” Smith added.

Thousands of small businesses owed millions from overcharged credit card fees

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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