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Pay your car licence – with your card!

Cape Town – The City is testing the use of card payment facilities at its motor vehicle registration office at the Civic Centre.

The use of card payment facilities will be for one week before the City expands this service to other motor vehicle registration facilities across Cape Town, such as the Promenade Mall, Milnerton, Khayelitsha and Plumstead.

On the first day of the pilot, more than 100 credit and debit card transactions were processed.

The city-wide roll out to motor vehicle registration offices is expected to take approximately two months. According to deputy mayor Ian Neilson, the expansion of card payment facilities for the payment of rates and tariff accounts and traffic fines will take a bit longer as system upgrades are required.

The City will accept payments of up to R5000 per transaction by credit or debit card, or any other means of payment which does not hold any cost implications.

“This amount covers most transactions by our clients,” Neilson said, “be it for motor vehicle licences, rates, services bills or other sundry payments. The City will, however, reclaim the relevant banking fee for any payment over R5000.”

As electronic payments carry the lowest bank charges, more than 60 percent of payments to the City are via this method.

“Our first day of testing went well and 103 card transactions to the value of approximately R45 000 were processed,” he added.

“The success of our online offerings, such as receiving municipal accounts by e-mail and the option of registering for the City’s e-services portal, allows for online payments of rates, tariffs and motor vehicle licence payments for clients,” said Neilson.

 


Kent claims 90% of waste handled in UK (2016) Available at: http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/kent-claims-90-of-waste-handled-in-uk/ (Accessed: 1 July 2016).
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  • (Kent claims 90% of waste handled in UK, 2016)
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Brexit: Possible Impacts on the UK Payments Market

Following Britain’s momentous decision to leave the European Union our thoughts must inevitably turn to the potential impact on UK consumer payments.

In this blog we provide some early thoughts on how the UK market may be affected, beginning with recent European regulation which will have to be untangled.

First, let us look at how the two Payment Services Directives may be approached by the UK government. Will the PSD1 remain on the statute book, and the PSD2 implemented as planned? The answer at this stage is probably. Many aspects of European legislation related to consumer protection are likely to remain because they did not fundamentally change existing UK rights. The UK government’s approach to account access is generally more progressive than that embodied in the PSD2, so this will probably be superseded by UK Open Data Initiative.

The biggest change will be in the area of licensing and passporting. The FCA has established a good reputation with innovative European payments businesses for its regulatory regime. These eMoney and Payment Institutions will probably to move their headquarters to other European markets, and we will be poorer for it both commercially and from an innovations perspective. Changing the approach to passporting will affect the UK’s cross border acquirers the most. Many UK acquirers rely on passporting FCA regulatory licenses to support their local acquiring offers across the EU. Unless they already have licenses in other EU markets, acquirers will need to seek new EU regulatory approval to operate across the continent, and to sign new merchant contracts.

Second, interchange regulation. The UK CMA has always taken a close interest in the payments market, and many issuers expected interchange to decline in the medium term. It therefore seems unlikely that credit interchange will suddenly return to its previous levels. It may be that debit migrates back to the historical fixed price approach. This is particularly important within the context of the announced move to a basic 0.2% (removing the 50p cap and 1p fee) expected for Visa Debit in September. We can therefore expect modest change in the interchange arena.

The European Banking Authority will almost certainly move, possibly to Paris to balance the ECB in Frankfurt. However, may have little impact on the UK consumer payments market as they have played a relatively modest role to date.

How may the international card schemes react? Both have substantial presence in the UK, particularly Visa. It seems likely that Visa Inc. will increase its presence in Continental Europe as part of a wider restructure as other roles are migrated to the US. MasterCard may also to shift its emphasis to Waterloo away from Canary Wharf. Both schemes will need to adapt their licensing approaches, but these are already flexible enough to accommodate the inclusion of non-EU markets. Such moves by the card schemes may be to the detriment of London and the UK, but the impact will probably be modest.

The impact on data processing and data security remains unclear. Will the UK be treated as an off-shore location for card and payment processing? This will be a matter for the lawyers to resolve, but could affect Visa’s UK processing hub, or MasterCard’s rumoured purchase of VocaLink. New payments processors arriving in Europe from the US or Asia are also much less likely to locate their business in the UK.

Will there be a substantial change in the structure of issuers and acquirers of consumer payments (either cards, credit transfers or direct debits)? We have already highlighted the impact on cross border acquiring, and both regulators and schemes will need to adapt accordingly. On the issuing side markets are unlikely to change their activities as they are either domestically focussed, or already manage operations both inside and outside the EU.

Now let’s look at users of payments. Will consumer spend day to day be affected? Again, probably not. Consumers in the UK do not use SEPA Direct Debits or SEPA Credit Transfers domestically. They will continue their preference for cards in store, and online. The growth in online payments will continue, alongside the growth in contactless in-store. Similarly it seems unlikely that there will be a substantial change in the merchant landscape. The UK will remain a vibrant market where retailers online and offline will fight for consumer spend. It seems less likely that our exit from the EU will impact this to any great degree.

We have suggested that there may be some potential downsides particularly in the area of acquiring and processing. Will there be any upsides? At this stage we struggle to see any, which is a great disappointment. Perhaps benefits will emerge from the current maelstrom by 2017.

So, in conclusion, impacts on the UK consumer retail payments market will most probably be concentrated in areas such as licensing, cross border acquiring and processing. However, in the long term we are optimistic that the UK consumer payments market is likely to remain innovative and forward looking and get past these issues.

 


Finextra (2016) Brexit: Possible impacts on the UK payments market. Available at: https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/12770/brexit-possible-impacts-on-the-uk-payments-market (Accessed: 27 June 2016).

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Is your business prepared for the cashless economy?

The UK is on the fast track to being cash-free, but are our small and medium businesses ready?

The pounds in your pocket are destined for the museum display cabinets. This is according to new research by trade association, Payments UK, who predict that debit card and contactless payment use will overtake cash transactions by 2021 after finding that cash transactions accounted for less than half of consumer payments for the first time in 2015.

There’s no doubt that contactless technology has transformed consumer buying, and with Apple and Android Pay now available, it’s clear that the days of counting out coppers for a pint of milk and a Mars bar will soon be over.

Who has the least cash?

Citigroup and London’s Imperial College latest Digital Money Index indicates that the UK has begun to sprint ahead in the global race to becoming a cashless society after rising from 7th to 4th place in the list of countries that are most ‘digital ready’. Finland topped the list as the most digital-ready country for the third consecutive year, with Singapore and the US following behind in second and third place respectively.

Finland’s continued position as a digital leader is unsurprising considering their strong investment in digital infrastructure. Fixed broadband is available to 97 per cent of Finnish homes; this combined with affordability has helped Finland become one of the most tech savvy nations, with 91 per cent of the population being regular internet users. Furthermore, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), Finland has one of the highest shares of eGovernment users and users of eHealth services in Europe. The Finnish government’s integration of digital and public services has further embedded digital processes into everyday life, meaning that digital payment is just another aspect of efficient modern living.

Contactless: the consumer’s choice

The rapid change in the UK’s payment habits can largely be attributed to big brands’ early adoption of contactless. In 2014 Tesco updated all 6,000 of their payment terminals in London to accept contactless payment, they announced that this would save 6 seconds for every customer that used it. For a consumer that is often time poor, 6 seconds less spent in a queue is 6 seconds less stress but more importantly for Tesco it speeds up customer service which enhances the customer experience.

However, contactless payment hasn’t always been hailed as a hero. Transport for London’s (TFL) announcement that its buses would go cashless in 2014 was initially met with scepticism. Nonetheless, since TFL has rolled out contactless across its network, more than 400 million journeys have been made using credit or debit cards or a mobile device, revealing that contactless is an option that offers consumers more, not less choice.
While Tesco and TFL helped lead the way in implementing wave and pay into our everyday lives, the increase in the contactless spend limit from £20 to £30 further pushed contactless mainstream by boosting retailer opportunities and encouraging a wider range of merchants to adapt their payment systems. In 2016, from petrol stations to pubs, consumers can go about their daily lives without having to enter their pin.
Contactless may have won London over first, but a recent study by Barclaycard found that contactless is growing fastest in Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. Furthermore, the study also revealed that the over 60’s, the group often deemed as ‘technophobes’, are the fastest growing adopters of contactless card payments. The popularity of contactless across generations offers further evidence that wave and pay is here to stay as more consumers look to utilise new technology that will allow them to make safer, more convenient payments.

Better for business

The swift infiltration of contactless into our everyday lives has certainly raised customer expectations of the pace and ease of service, meaning that businesses not offering customers the payment options they expect, risk undermining their reputation by appearing out of touch.
However, the new way to pay offers considerable benefits to businesses too. Sage Pay’s Payments Landscape Report 2015, found that annual cash handling costs, including allowance for fraud and theft, set UK retailers back more than £3,600 on average. By offering cashless payment options, businesses will benefit hugely from reduced cash handling costs. While digital payments are not completely free from fraud, the risk is significantly lower. Figures from the UK Cards Association show that in the first six months of 2015, fraudulent transactions were equivalent to only 2p for every £100 spent using contactless functionality.

In addition to speedier, safer transactions, digital payments also open up the possibility of integrated reward programmes and location-based marketing. Tapping into these smartphone capabilities will allow businesses to use customer data to deliver tailored marketing campaigns, enhancing customer experience and encouraging loyalty.

While the question of whether the UK will turn completely cashless remains debatable, there’s no doubt that paying for a latte with a quick swish of your wrist has become so commonplace that digging deep in your purse for cash feels like an archaic practice. Whether you’re a high street store, independent coffee shop or a local newsagent, consumers now expect to be able to pay with lightning speed. Cashless is coming, make sure you’re prepared.

 


Growth Business UK. 2016. Is your business prepared for the cashless economy?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.growthbusiness.co.uk/comment-and-analysis/2532811/is-your-business-prepared-for-the-cashless-economy.thtml. [Accessed 24 June 2016].

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How To Make UK Faster Payments Faster

The Faster Payments initiative has made significant strides in the United Kingdom, so much so that the scheme has been held up as a model for other nations globally. 

Yet the work is far from done.  There are still numbers of businesses and consumers that are not yet linked up to the grid, so to speak, and even fewer products for consumers to take advantage of.

In an interview with Karen Webster, William Proctor, vice president and product line manager of UP Immediate Payments at ACI Worldwide, delved into the triumphs and trials seen thus far.

The Faster Payments scheme has a goal of reaching every single consumer in the U.K.  What are the main barriers to entry for people, businesses and payment providers looking to be a part of the U.K. Faster Payments scheme?

U.K. Faster Payments has seen very successful adoption.  It’s clear that the service is valuable as the transaction growth rates continue to be in the double digits year over year.  Some of the barriers that had prevented adoption to date, such as value limits, have largely been eliminated.

Now, the primary barriers are reaching the consumers and small businesses who are not customers of direct member banks, as well as enabling larger businesses to integrate real-time processing into their back offices. Delivering on ubiquity is the key objective, and the push to make more indirect members, direct members will help significantly.

Enabling payment service providers to access the payment systems offered, called The New Access Model, will also lead to more innovation, itself creating a new payment ecosystem.  Finally, there is always the issue of education.  The U.K. market understands the options very well.  In other markets looking to offer real-time services, education will be an important element to drive adoption.

The fixed costs of communication links between PSPs and central infrastructure is causing issues with potential users of Faster Payments services, especially smaller players.  What is being done to allow them the same advantage and ability to use the service? 

The New Access Model approach from Faster Payments Scheme Ltd (FPSL) introduces the concept of Aggregator Services to simplify and reduce the cost of access for an organization seeking to offer real-time payment services.  This is a smart approach as it gives smaller banks, FinTechs and all other payment intermediaries greater options for connecting to the scheme.

Organizations can be a direct member and have an account with U.K. Faster Payments or they can use a sponsor relationship. By using a technical aggregator, the costs of connectivity are shared across several tenants using the same infrastructure.

This flexibility allows businesses to connect with the solution that makes the most strategic and economic sense to them.  It allows them to really focus on the end user, a business or a consumer, to offer new and unique services.  This is what the real-time capability is all about – driving innovation, competition and enhanced value on the back of real-time processing.

Given where the U.S. market is going with multiple real-time schemes, we expect this Aggregator approach could make a lot of sense there, too, to enable the vast number and types of institutions that offer real-time payments.  We’ll need an approach that addresses many more participants, both banks and non-banks.

It has been identified that the gap between the scheme’s central interfaces and PSP’s diverse capabilities and infrastructures need to be bridged, but not to the extent of using a ‘single pipe’ solution.  Would having multiple connection points open up more ways for fraudsters? How is the consumer or business protected?  

New models such as this are always a target for fraud.  When Faster Payments first went live, online banking fraud more than doubled from the prior year. The model itself is not more susceptible, but with more participants in the scheme and more end users, there is a greater threat.  It’s critical that organizations offering any new products and services look comprehensively at their systems and processes to enhance fraud prevention techniques as required.  This is an area that needs ongoing attention as technology evolves.  Open API initiatives such as PSD2 will equally be challenged by new fraud threats.  It’s critical to have a real-time fraud approach that looks across access origination channels and processing engines — a layered, multi-channel approach to your fraud strategy.

Smartphones have drastically changed consumer expectations and brought about multiple new digital and mobile payment services.  How does faster payments enable product innovation as well as future technology advancements? 

The smartphone has driven a demand for real-time, instantaneous information.  This transposes into our expectations for making payments. We see these experiences converging across digital formats, mobile to social for example and we have shifted from caring about the transaction to caring about the experience. A delay or a complex process makes no sense, but it’s not that simple to change.  Years of transformation and evolution are behind current payment models.

However, that is also what is really interesting about where we are today in payments.  The newer players entering the space as well as the established financial institutions and payment intermediaries are heavily embracing technology and change.  Whether it takes the form of competition or partnership, the industry is moving forward at a very fast pace.  The real-time payments schemes are just the enabling rails for terrific innovation.  We have a new customer anticipating huge benefits from adding real-time processing to their foreign exchange services.

We see all types of FinTechs, but also banks and processors, launching creative new services, where real-time payments are a cornerstone to these offerings and in many cases are the foundation to delivering the user experience.

 


PYMNTS (2016) How to make UK faster payments faster. Available at: http://www.pymnts.com/news/security-and-risk/2016/uk-faster-payments/ (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

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Early days, but Apple Pay struggles outside U.S.

More than 18 months after Apple Pay took the United States by storm, the smartphonegiant has made only a small dent in the global payments market, snagged by technical challenges, low consumer take-up and resistance from banks.

The service is available in six countries and among a limited range of banks, though in recent weeks Apple has added four banks to its sole Singapore partner American Express; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Australia; and Canada’s five big banks.

Apple Pay usage totaled $10.9 billion last year, the vast majority of that in the United States. That is less than the annual volume of transactions in Kenya, a mobile payments pioneer, according to research firm Timetric.

And its global turnover is a drop in the bucket in China, where Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent dominate the world’s biggest mobile payments market – with an estimated $1 trillion worth of mobile transactions last year, according to iResearch data.

Anecdotal evidence from Britain, China and Australia suggests Apple Pay is popular with core Apple followers, but the quality of service, and interest in it, varies significantly.

To use Apple Pay, consumers tap their iPhone over payment terminals to buy coffee, train tickets and other services. It can be also used at vending machines that accept contactless payments.

Apple Pay transactions were a fraction of the $84.5 billion in iPhone sales for the six months to March, which accounted for two-thirds of Apple’s total revenue.

TECH HITCHES

In Australia, where Apple Pay launched a month ago, payment machines supported by one mid-sized bank reported frequent failures.

“Bendigo Bank is experiencing some unforeseen technical issues in accepting Apple Pay payments at selected merchant terminals,” a spokeswoman for the bank told Reuters, adding that a lack of wider industry engagement in launching the service limited the lead time in testing the new technology.

Apple Vice President Jennifer Bailey said such experiences were premature and not representative. “Like any set of major technology changes, it takes time,” she said. “We want to move as quickly as possible, we push it as quickly as possible.”

Facing a slowing smartphone business, Apple has taken on the payments market hoping to add ways to make its devices more appealing, and more revenue streams. Apple takes a cut of up to 15 cents in the United States on every $100 spent.

While it has long mastered the supply chain for its mobile devices, the payments ecosystem has proved harder to control, and banks in other countries have reportedly negotiated lower transaction fees, contributing to its slow global roll-out.

Apple nearly doubled its R&D spending to more than $8 billion in 2013-15 as it pushed out a wave of new products including Apple Watch and Apple Pay, as well as upgrades to existing hardware devices and new services.

RESISTANCE

Apple has leveraged its huge U.S. user base to push Pay, but has met resistance in Australia, Britain and Canada where banks are building their own products.

“Payments in general is such a complicated system with so many incumbent providers that revolutionary change like this was not going to happen very quickly,” said Joshua Gilbert, an analyst at First Annapolis Consulting.

The upshot: Apple has rolled out Pay in a dribble, adding countries and partners where it can – Hong Kong is expected to be added next – resulting in an uneven banking landscape with users and retail staff not always sure what will work and how.

In Britain, for example, $14 billion was spent via contactless cards last year, according to Windsor Holden, a Juniper Research analyst. That makes it harder to persuade people to take the extra step on their smartphone for the same checkout convenience.

“You have over 86 million contactless cards in circulation, you have to persuade Britons to register their cards to the (Apple Pay) service when they can already use them to make a contactless payment,” Holden said.

In Australia, where more than 60 percent of all card transactions are through contactless cards, reception has also been muted. A spokesman for one large retailer said he had seen “very little uptake of the payment option” in his sector. He didn’t want to be named as he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Diego Machuca, 32, banks with Apple Pay-holdout Commonwealth Bank, has an iPhone and is already “largely cashless”. He says Apple Pay is appealing, but he wouldn’t switch banks just to access that one feature. “Not over that. There’s too much work involved just for tap-and-go,” he told Reuters.

Three months after the China launch, users on online forums complained that using Apple Pay, even at popular fast-food outlets, was not as seamless as local services such as WeChat, Tencent’s messaging and mobile commerce phenomenon.

Nonetheless, Apple’s approach has spurred development in several markets where the mobile payments industry had previously not taken hold – giving it the jump on rivals Google’s Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

Android Pay only launched in the United States in March and in Britain last month for use on the latest model Android phones. Samsung Pay is available in three markets; China, South Korea and the United States.

 


Siegel, M., Wagstaff, J. and Auchard, E. (2016) Early days, but apple pay struggles outside U.S. Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-apple-pay-idUKKCN0YN61U (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

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No contactless card? That’ll be 10p extra – the Subway charging people MORE to use Chip and PIN

After a surprised customer in Bristol was informed paying by chip and PIN would cost 10p MORE than using a contactless card, we take a look at your rights.

Contactless payments let you buy goods of up to £30 just by waving your card, wristband, phone or any other contactless device by the reader in the shop.

But they also come with some pretty serious security risks – meaning many people are choosing to leave theirs at home or not upgrade.

Others simply have cards that aren’t enabled yet – with many of these not set to be replaced for some years – meaning they couldn’t pay with contactless if they wanted to.

None of this would be a problem, except now some people are charging customers MORE to use a chip and PIN terminal – even though the card companies charge the same amount.

Bill was faced with this charge at Subway in Brislington, Bristol, where customers were being asked to pay 10p more for using a debit card that wasn’t contactless.

He’s not the only one to be charged.

Is that even allowed?

Contactless debit and credit cards

In Bill’s case we know that his card issuer, Visa, charges exactly the same amount in fees for contactless and Chip and PIN transactions- but there’s no reason the retailer can’t impose its own fees.

“All SUBWAY® stores are independently owned and operated by franchisees, who are independent business owners,” Subway told Mirror Money.

“On this occasion the franchisee for the Brislington store has opted to enact a debit card charge and has placed a sign at the till point making customers aware of this.”

The government only bans “excessive” card surcharges and there are a number of legitimate reasons shops could impose small ones.

Firstly, retailer’s own banks charge a fee to process card transactions – the UK cards association told Mirror Money – while fees for hiring terminals might also be different for chip and PIN and contactless cards.

As these are set between the shop and its bank, they could easily vary for different types of transactions.

There could also be a standard fee that the shop chooses to waive for contactless card transactions, but not Chip and PIN, as they are quicker and let the shop serve more customers.

Will it spread?

A customer holds a 10 pound British banknote, next to a Verifone Systems
Putting in your PIN could cost you

Card transactions cost retailers, although this has been capped at an average of 0.2% (2p per £10) for debit cards and 0.3% (3p per £10) for credit cards in the EU.

However, these are generally waived for customers by big stores – and fees only imposed in smaller shops for transactions below a certain level.

But with contactless payments so much quicker, the idea of charging people an additional fee for using Chip and PIN to compensate for the extra time it takes to pay is something that might well catch on.

If you’re looking to avoid being charged for not having a card, contact your bank or building society and they should be able to issue you a contactless enabled debit card.

If you’re worried about security on this card, we’ve got a full breakdown on how to stop cards being read from your wallet or purse here.

 


Andrews, J. (2015) No contactless card? That’ll be 10p extra at this shop. Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/no-contactless-card-thatll-10p-7063341 (Accessed: 10 June 2016).

 

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Payment card data attacks worry over half of UK and US businesses

Well over half (60 percent) of US and 52 percent of UK enterprises feel that an attack on payment card data is likely or more than likely.

Semafone conducted a survey during the summer of 2015 on the attitudes and practices of UK and US payments professionals. Contact centres have seen to decrease in payments conducted over the phone. Volume of payments made over the phone have increased or remained the same during the last two years according to 87 percent of UK respondents and 84 percent of US.

Eighty three percent of all respondents (79 percent of US and 86 percent of UK) felt that loss of customers or brand damage would be the worst effects of a payment card data breach. Crisis communication plans have been put into place in case of a payment card data breach for 68 percent of UK respondents and 51 percent of US.

Contact centres don’t seem to be prepared for possible attacks as only 46 percent of respondents said that they maintain a full set of Payment Card Industry (PCI) controls to lower the risk of an attack. Eighty one percent of respondents said that they ask their customers to say their card details out loud on the phone.

“Both card and telephone fraud are on the increase in the US and the UK, but it’s clear that there is more work to be done to put the right security measures in place. It’s good to see that organisations are waking up to the threat of attack and recognising the reputational damage a breach can bring, but we all need to move faster if we want to avoid more large-scale incidents,” said Tim Critchley, CEO of Semafone.

 


Payment card data attacks worry over half of UK and US businesses (2016) Available at: http://www.scmagazine.com/payment-card-data-attacks-worry-over-half-of-uk-and-us-businesses/article/464384/ (Accessed: 10 June 2016).

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Restaurant where cash is off the menu: Tossed will become first chain to only accept payments by card or on mobile apps

A restaurant has opened which won’t take your order, and won’t take your cash.

High street food chain Tossed has become the first in the UK to stop accepting coins or notes and only take payments by credit or debit cards, or contactless methods such as Apple Pay.

Two new outlets in central London will not only refuse cash payments, but they will also require customers to place their orders using self-service kiosks – akin to those in supermarkets.

The new systems will replace manned tills entirely, and will invite customers to choose their food using touch-screen menus.

The modernised outlets will have 15 self-service kiosks and customers will be able to pick food up from a collection point, whether they have ordered in-store or through Tossed’s website or mobile phone app.

Tossed, which specialises in healthy salads and wraps, said its goal was to make the customer experience slicker and free-up staff to make fresh meals.

It is also seeking to remove paper from its shops in a bid to be more environmentally friendly.

Vincent McKevitt, founder of Tossed, said: ‘Most operators face speed and capacity issues at lunchtime, but ours are intensified because we make our food fresh-to-order and most guests like to customise their food to suit their health and taste requirements.

Tossed plans to roll out the cashless self-service model to all of its 26 restaurants across the UK

Tossed plans to roll out the cashless self-service model to all of its 26 restaurants across the UK

‘This unique solution allows our team to focus their energy on our speed of production.

‘Guest feedback from the trials has been very positive: people like to be able browse in their own time and customise what they eat, completing a great experience with tasty, bespoke, healthy food, served quickly.’

Tossed plans to roll out the cashless self-service model to all of its 26 restaurants.

 


Reporter, E.D.C. (2016) Tossed will become first chain to only accept card or mobile payment. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3490675/Restaurant-cash-menu-Tossed-chain-accept-payments-card-mobile-apps.html (Accessed: 10 June 2016).

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iZettle’s boss is on a mission to kill cash

iZettle’s black card terminals are letting Shoreditch coffee houses and sole traders ditch cash.

“Getting rid of hardware, I think that’s the future of payments.”

That’s a bold claim, especially from a man whose business has, until recently, revolved around building the card readers favoured by quirky cafes and sole traders.

Jacob de Geer co-founded iZettle in Stockholm in 2010, at a time when card payments were exploding in popularity across Europe.

As we increasingly moved away from cash to card, small shops and retailers struggled to take card payments without signing long onerous contracts or paying huge fees to banks and payments companies more interested in serving large supermarkets.

“What we saw is that the need for taking cards was enormous, but what we realised is that many of the smaller merchants were reluctant to adopt this new technology, whether that was from a fear of the upfront costs or overheads on their business,” de Geer told The Memo.

Today if you’ve been into an independent coffee shop, bike store or had a handyman come out to your house, chances are you might have been handed one of iZettle’s card reader devices to pay with.

That’s because iZettle doesn’t charge monthly subscription fees or set-up costs for these small retailers to take card payments, it’s just a free (or cheap) iZettle terminal and then a small transaction fee.

A contactless country

It’s not just quirky coffee shops, in the UK with London’s black cabs being ordered to start accepting card payments by October, many cabbies are looking at iZettle as the quickest, easiest way to achieve this.

iZettle has even put together a TfL-approved contactless card payment bundle for drivers to take card payments.

De Geer says the UK is by far iZettle’s fastest-growing market, outstripping even the company’s home market.

“The UK is even more advanced than Sweden, especially when it comes to contactless. Still in Sweden you can’t find contactless cards being issued by banks.”

Indeed Brits have swarmed to using contactless. In March we spent a combined £1.5bn with contactless, an all-time record, just four months after we passed the previous monthly record of £1bn with contactless.

De Geer says Britain has now reached a contactless “inflection point” where the sheer momentum of contactless cards and shops accepting contactless are rapidly accelerating, part of the reason iZettle has grown so quickly in the UK.

But building new card readers and hardware isn’t de Geer’s ultimate goal, iZettle is on a mission to move beyond payments.

“Getting rid of hardware, I think that’s the future of payments.”

iZettle lets small businesses take card payments across 12 countries.

iZettle lets small businesses take card payments across 12 countries.

The next lenders

Last year de Geer raised €60m in funding and announced an expansion of iZettle to include cash advances for its customers.

Now your favourite small coffee shop can borrow against its sales history and use the money to invest in higher quality coffee beans, hiring new baristas or even a opening a new store.

Since the financial crisis it’s this kind of borrowing that traditional banks have been reluctant to offer, leaving these small companies and sole traders in difficulty, now a host of new lenders are springing up to serve this market.

If small businesses borrowing against their sales history sounds familiar, it could be because PayPal, Amazon and Square (iZettle’s US rival) all began offering similar services over the past year.

But that’s not something that worries de Geer.

“There will be plenty of players in this space, SMEs have been painfully underserved.”

“I think we have one of the strongest merchant acquiring machines going in the offline space [with iZettle’s payment terminals attracting new retailers who might go on to borrow from iZettle], we’re much stronger than PayPal,” he says.

Still, PayPal and Amazon have both had long head-starts in lending to small businesses, and neither has claimed to have seen much success in the space.

Today de Geer is confident iZettle can do better.

 


IZettle’s boss is on a mission to kill cash (2016) Available at: http://www.thememo.com/2016/05/23/izettles-jacob-de-geer-is-on-a-mission-to-kill-cash/ (Accessed: 10 June 2016).

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A quarter of UK consumers refuse to shop cash-only

Consumers in the UK are reducing their cash use, with a quarter of shoppers claiming to avoid stores that don’t accept payment cards.

A quarter of UK consumers will avoid shopping in stores that only accept payment by cash, according to research.

A study by payments firm Worldpay found 25% of consumers would choose not to go in shops that do not take card payments, and a third of shoppers will only use cash if completely necessary.

The younger generation are the drivers of the cashless trend, with 60% of people aged 24 to 34 stating they would prefer not to carry cash.

Dave Hobday, UK managing director at Worldpay said: “For today’s digitally driven shoppers, cash has become a relic. It’s easy to see why that’s the case, as innovations like contactless and mobile payments continue to raise the bar in terms of speed, simplicity and convenience.”

Worldpay’s research found this attitude to card payments may damage smaller retailers, and estimated that 60,000 small retailers across the UK make card payments difficult for consumers.

One in 10 small retailers claimed not to offer card payments for customers, and of those who do offer card payments, 10% imposed a minimum spending threshold on payments made by card.

Younger shoppers are highly influenced by what they view and share online, and many will choose to shop on their mobile devices even after or during a visit to a physical store.

Consumers have not only abandoned cash, but are increasingly turning to contactless and mobile payments rather than traditional chip-and-PIN methods.

This need for a “seamless shopping experience” is forcing both retailers and payments providers to be more flexible with the services they provide.

But Worldpay’s research found only 20% of small independent retailers offered the ability to provide click-and-collect style services where customers could order online and pay in store or vice-versa. To combat this lack of digital flexibility, Worldpay has launched an awareness campaign dubbed iStreet to help small retailers become more digitally savvy.

Hobday said: “Consumers take for granted the ability to flit between in-store and online channels – and they expect retailers to provide the same flexibility, regardless of their size. Small and independent retailers [need help to] embrace technology to enable them to offer the type of experience that modern consumers expect and which has, until now, largely been the preserve of larger high-street stores.”

 


McDonald, C. (2016) A quarter of UK consumers refuse to shop cash-only. Available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450297931/A-quarter-of-UK-consumers-refuse-to-shop-cash-only (Accessed: 8 June 2016).

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Worldpay: SMBs Must Adopt New Payment Methods Or Face Extinction

Reluctance to introduce new systems could see up to 60,00 British small businesses could face the chop as consumers ditch cash for cards.

Britain’s small business are being put at risk by failing to introduce digital, consumer friendly-payment methods, new research from WorldPay has claimed.

As many as 60,000 UK SMBs could face losing valuable custom by not supporting any form of card payments, including contactless, or digital or mobile services such as Apple Pay or Android Pay.

This is the equivalent of one in ten of the country’s small and independent retailers, with a further 10 percent imposing a lower limit on non-cash payments.

Pay up

payments

A number of studies recently have found that consumer attitudes to payment methods are changing rapidly, as more and more shoppers choose to pay by card rather than carrying around large amounts of cash.

A recent report from industry body The Payments Association predicted that card payments will overtake cash transactions by 2021, with the latter being used for just over one in four (27 percent) of payments by 2025.

Worldpay found that nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of 24-34 year olds say they would prefer not to have to carry cash, as a quarter of UK consumers claim they’ve started avoiding shops that don’t take cards, while a third (30 percent) say they only use cash if absolutely necessary.

Businesses are also failing to get the technology in place to expand online, with the research finding that just 20 percent of SMBs allow shoppers to order and pay for goods online as well as in-store.

“For today’s digitally driven shoppers, cash has become a relic,” noted Dave Hobday, WorldPay’s UK managing director. “It’s easy to see why that’s the case, as innovations like contactless and mobile payments continue to raise the bar in terms of speed, simplicity and convenience. For consumers, being able to pay by which ever method they choose is a minimum requirement of what it means to be a modern retailer.”

“Consumers take for granted the ability to flit between in-store and online channels – and they expect retailers to provide the same flexibility, regardless of their size.”

 


Moore, M. (2016) Worldpay: SMBs must adopt new payment methods or face extinction. Available at: http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/e-marketing/epayment/worldpay-uk-smbs-card-payments-193216 (Accessed: 7 June 2016).

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Barclaycard turns 50 this month, but is there much to celebrate?

Barclays launched its first credit card in 1966. Sean O’Grady takes a look at the history of spending, the accumulation of debt and how we are all living beyond our means.

So: the Barclaycard, the first proper credit card in Britain, celebrates its half-century. Cause for rejoicing? Or deep abiding national regret?

It was, and is, a boon. Before Barclaycard there were various charge cards, such as American Express, but these tended to be instruments of convenience rather than extended credit – they had to be paid back, in full, in short order.

In a way the idea of credit is nothing new: there have always been financial IOUs. The recent discovery in the City of London of a wooden Roman promise to pay – they didn’t have magnetic strips or touch technology in those days – is a reminder of that. It is dated 8 January, 57AD and ackowledges that someone owed a trader 105 denarii for some merchandise. After all, the word “credit” derives from the Latin for trust. But the modern credit card was special and novel, because it separated your assets, mainly your current account from your liabilities and you could take time to pay it back.

In those days it was highly elite. In the 1960s most of the population didn’t even have a current account with a cheque book; wages were paid in cash and readies paid for everything, from a paper and the football pools, to the rent.

After Barclaycard and the others became established, as financial deregulation and prosperity spread in the decades following, we entered a marvellous new world where virtually anything – a pair of shoes, a meal in a restaurant, even a car – could be purchased with a wave of the “plastic”. It used to be a slightly special affair. Shops and restaurants would have little plastic signs in the window or on the door declaring “Barclaycard accepted here” or “Welcome Access”. Access, by the way was the rival to Barclaycard set up a few years later by Barclays’ more slow-footed rivals – NatWest, Lloyds, RBS and the now forgotten Midland Bank. In due course it became Mastercard, and by the 1980s just about every major financial institution in the world had entered this lucrative market.

counterfoil-credit-card-machine.jpg

Using a counterfoil card machine was a slighlty more complex affair than today’s contactless

After all, with a typical annual interest rate (correctly calculated) of about 30 per cent and customers almost wilfully neglectful of the fact that this was, and is, an expensive way to borrow money – and a lucrative way to lend it. There were fat profits to be made. By the end of the 1990s the competition for customers had become so fierce that multiple unsolicited offers through the post of zero per cent rates for a year, turned many of us into debt junkie “rate tarts” – making a small monthly minimum repayment on a 10 grand debt and transferring it to a new card provider every six months, just before the interest charges kicked in. I too was a rate tart, merrily recycling my debt from NatWest to Barclays to Nationwide to Alliance and Leicester to MBNA to Capital One to Barclaycard and back again. This may have inflicted some – unfair – damage on my credit rating.

By the 2000s nearly everyone had at least one credit card, as well as their debit card, while shop-specific store cards also reached peaks of popularity, despite even higher interest and late payment charges. Cash had started its decline; it was used in less than half our transactions for the first time in 2015.

One wouldn’t want to overstate it, but this plethora of cards, their ease of use and often generous instant spending limits – £5,000 or more even for people on modest wages – played their part in creating the credit boom that inevitably ended with the credit crunch, banking crisis and the Great Recession in 2008. An awful lot of global credit card debts, unbeknown to the people who bought their new telly or paid for their honeymoon via plastic, were aggregated by investment banks into blocks of bonds, and then diced and sliced over and again into a pyramid of “collateralised debt securities”. These were then sold on and sold on, to banks, investment houses, insurers and pension funds, and used as collateral for yet more debt creation. In the end some of it turned out quite worthless – “toxic debt”. It cost us all a great deal to clean the mess up. As we all know.

If the first Barclaycard was introduced in 1966, then I joined the party about a third of the way through, as a student in the early 1980s, and not one with any assets to call upon beyond my natural wit. As soon as I got my hands on my Lloyds Bank Access card, I bought a pair of Doc Martens shoes, a style I still favour, and I remember the dizzying effect it had on me. I didn’t need any money! The shop assistant wrote down, by hand, the details on a slip of paper with some sort of greaseproof sheet on the back – the counterfoil. I signed it. Then she placed the card underneath the slip into a contraption with an ink roller on top. The roller made an impression of the card, and that was that. Such a mechanical ceremonial seems as far away today as that ancient Roman wooden cheque. In any case, in the spring of 1982 I too had been inducted into the something for nothing society.

martens.jpg

Doc Martens: for the first time it was possible to buy your favourite pair of shoes without having to pay cash upfront (Getty )

Today, we have £64.4 billion of credit card debt in the UK. We owe almost as much as we did before the crash, and the debt is edging up again. One of Britain’s great dirty secrets is that much of the improvement in living standards we have enjoyed over the years has been funded by borrowing: consumers borrowing from banks; the nation borrowing from foreigners. As individuals we have become too used to spending more than we earn, and the British as a whole are too reliant on the willingness of overseas investors to fund our trade deficit. In the case of the poor, they are often forced to borrow merely to survive, from “payday lenders”, who use sophisticated algorithms, clever marketing and the internet to conduct their trade, charging 1,500 per cent a year.

The longevity of Barclaycard and its many peers – there are hundreds of bits of plastic to choose from – show how very ingrained the British debt habit is. After all the talk – some of it going back long before 1966  – about rebalancing the economy, the British are still more interested in borrowing, spending and consuming than in investing, making things and exporting. If only we could be so innovative in the rest of our economy as we are in the field of personal finance, we might not be perpetually living beyond our means.

 


O’Grady, S. (2016) Barclaycard turns 50 this month, but is there much to celebrate? Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/barclaycard-turns-50-this-month-but-is-there-much-to-celebrate-a7062316.html (Accessed: 6 June 2016).

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Card payment business Handepay celebrates 10 years with Steve Prescott Foundation donation

A card payment specialist is celebrating a decade in business by pledging to donate £10,000 to the Steve Prescott Foundation over the next year.

Haydock-based company Handepay has already handed over an initial £1,000 and raised further funds with a raffle held during the celebrations.

Steve Prescott’s widow Linzi was present to accept the cheque and join in the birthday fun with staff at Handepay’s head office at Westway Park.

Andy Peake, managing director at Handepay, said, “Our company is founded on helping other businesses to save and make money and after 10 fantastic years of being able to do so, we wanted to celebrate with a local charity close to the hearts and minds of all the staff here.”

Martin Blondel, general manager of the SPF, added: “This generous donation from Handepay will go a long way to helping in the local community and to us reaching our million pound mark in donations to our charitable causes.

“Our benefactors include Try Assist who support rugby players seriously affected by injury or illness and The Christie hospital in Manchester, both of whom will be so grateful for this donation and the work it will help them to do.”

He added: “The recently formed SPF Special Causes Fund will support hospitals, researchers and surgeons who deal in Psuedomyxoma related conditions and multi visceral transplantation and ensure that the donations will have a direct and significant effect on people’s lives.”

Staff at Handepay, of whom some have friends or family who have benefitted from the treatment and services provided by The Christie, selected the charity.

Handepay will raise the rest of the £10,000 through a mixture of fundraising activities over the course of the next year.

 


Mulligan, S. (2001) Card payment business Handepay celebrates 10 years with Steve Prescott foundation donation. Available at: http://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/NEWS/14520980.Card_payment_business_Handepay_celebrates_10_years_with_Steve_Prescott_Foundation_donation/ (Accessed: 3 June 2016).

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Santander Becomes First U.K. Bank to Introduce Blockchain Technology for International Payments

Santander U.K. has announced its introduction of blockchain technology for international payments through a new app that is currently being rolled out as a staff pilot.

The bank plans to make the application, which is only available on Apple’s iOS, available to consumers after it completes the pilot program. The announcement makes Santander the first bank in the U.K. to use blockchain for international payments.

The new Santander app connects to Apple Pay, where users can confirm payments securely using Touch ID. It lets users transfer between £10 and £10,000, and payments can be made from British pounds to euros and U.S. dollars. Currently, payments made in euros can be sent to 21 countries and U.S. dollar payments to the United States only.

“The need for finance has evolved from providing a physical pound in your pocket or card in your purse, where you pay at a till, to being seamlessly integrated into a new, always on, connected lifestyle,” said Sigga Sigurdardottir, head of customer and innovation at Santander. “At Santander we work hard to ensure our banking is simple, personal and fair and believe new blockchain technology will play a transformational role in the way we achieve our goals and better serve our customers, adding value by creating more choice and convenience.”

The Santander app is powered by the blockchain technology implementation developed by Ripple, a company in which Santander Innoventures, the $100 million fintech venture capital fund of Santander Group, has invested. Working with Ripple builds on Santander’s philosophy of collaborating with the most innovative companies to consistently provide better services to customers. In June 2015, Bitcoin Magazine reported that, in a paper titled “The Fintech 2.0 Paper: Rebooting financial services,” Santander Innoventures issued “a call to action to banks, financial institutions and financial technology (fintech) businesses to work together to undertake a fundamental ‘reboot’ of the core processes, systems and infrastructure of the banking industry.”

According to Ripple, its technology offers a real-time cross-currency settlement solution that is flexible enough to comply with the risk policy, privacy and compliance needs of banks. “It is architected to fit within your bank’s existing infrastructure, resulting in minimal integration overhead and business disruption,” notes the Ripple website.

“Ripple is redefining the way that value moves around the world, and today we’re already enabling real-time, affordable international settlement between banks who have adopted our solutions,” said Ripple cofounder and CEO Chris Larsen. “As an early adopter and pioneer in the banking industry, Santander is the first bank in the world to transfer real funds externally. In doing so, they are creating a new, exemplary standard of service.” The Rippleannouncement notes that security and regulatory compliance is central to all activity undertaken at Santander and their Ripple-powered app has already undergone the same rigorous testing all new technology goes through ahead of roll out.

The move is a much-needed response to the upcoming wave of digital payment providers that threatens to lure customers away from the banks.

“Clearly, it’s an area where, as an industry, we don’t have as good a customer experience as we could do . . . there are a lot of pain points,” said Ed Metzger, head of innovation, technology and operations at Santander U.K., as reportedby The Financial Times. “There’s lots of activity in international payments.” Metzger added that the reason why new digital players have been able to make progress is because “customer experiences through normal channels aren’t great.”

“It’s the first time a U.K. bank has sent payments of this type via Ripple and launched it as a commercial service,” Metzger told Bloomberg News. “Many people are doing lab style experiments, the key difference here is about getting real people to send real money for real purposes. I just paid my wife, who is Spanish, some money to a Spanish bank account this morning.”

Bloomberg News notes that Santander is one of several major banks, including Citigroup, UBS and Barclays, striving to find ways to exploit the distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin to cut costs and stay at the leading edge of modern fintech.

In April, Bitcoin Magazine reported that Barclays formed a partnership with “Bitcoin bank” Circle in a move that received welcoming support from U.K. authorities. Barclays Corporate Banking is providing the account that Circle needs to store sterling for consumers and the infrastructure to allow transfers from any U.K. bank account in and out of Circle. An interesting feature of the Barclays/Circle initiative is that it uses the standard, public Bitcoin blockchain, instead of an alternative implementation.

 


Prisco, G. (2016) Santander becomes First U.K. Bank to introduce Blockchain technology for international payments. Available at: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/santander-becomes-first-u-k-bank-to-introduce-blockchain-technology-for-international-payments-1464795902 (Accessed: 3 June 2016).

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Charities encouraged to embrace mobile payments

Charities are being urged to adopt contactless payment technology as its usage in the UK continues to grow.

Research from MasterCard has found that one in 20 people are using contactless technology via their smartphone, wearable or enabled payments card once a week or more.

And overall, one-quarter of British consumers said that they intend to use their mobile to make contactless payments in the next 12 months.

Android Pay

Following the launch of Android Pay in the UK, the card payment firm is predicting a rise in the adoption of mobile contactless technology in the UK, opening up the huge customer base that owns a device running on Google’s mobile operating system.

MasterCard points to the security and higher payment potential of mobile payments as key drivers of the increased uptake.

Elliott Goldenberg, head of digital payments, MasterCard UK & Ireland said: “Mobile phones offer people the means to make contactless payments over £30 because the user can be verified, for example by means of their fingerprint.

“The other key difference is the use of digital tokens – in short, your card details aren’t passed onto the retailer because they are not stored on the phone in the first place. As consumers increasingly recognise these benefits, mobile payments will begin to see the kind of growth that contactless has had over the last two years.”

 


Clark, A. (2016) Charities encouraged to embrace mobile payments. Available at: http://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2016/05/31/charities-encouraged-to-embrace-mobile-payments/ (Accessed: 2 June 2016).