The dawn of a cashless society

I am reliably informed by Rob Weatherhead in his Digital content hub blog on the Guardian, that our attention spans are getting shorter. The irony of said blog being 1,300ish words long was not lost on me. A recent media training course run by Steve Dunne, similarly identified diminishing attention spans and the need to deliver concise-multimedia content to properly engage the modern information junky. No-one reads opinion pieces these days apparently…

But sometimes they do, and I’d encourage you to take a gander at Marc Ambasna-Jones’s article, “M-Commerce: When Will I Buy a Coffee With My Mobile?” for a great example of how long form written content can still be engaging and informative. I’m not going to paraphrase Marc’s article, you can read it for yourself; but it’s clear that the movement towards m-commerce achieving widespread take up is approaching critical mass, albeit somewhat dependant on Apple’s strategy to achieve this.

The results of a study by the British Bankers’ Association and EY announced this week revealed that contactless payments are expected to double this year to £6.1million a week. When you factor in that on average, 15,000 banking apps have been downloaded every day this year (there are now 14.7 million of them in circulation), and digital banking transactions now total £6.4bn a week, the ‘mobile wallet’ is no longer just a fancy cover that protects your phone and holds a few bank cards.

The move towards a cashless society is gathering pace; London buses no longer accept cash for fares, because 99% of customers already use Oyster, prepaid tickets, concessionary tickets, or contactless payment cards. And those 99% of people not using cash didn’t do so because they were forced to. They did so because it was convenient, fast, and the technology was there to support it. The implications of this are that if you enable payment in this way elsewhere, and smartphones are able to facilitate the payment, the demand will be there.

And what then? If your phone effectively becomes a bank card, could it act in lieu of multiple credit/debit/store cards? Could it even store you drivers licence or another form of ID card. Of course, there are security implications to consider. But that, is a conversation for another time.

I leave you with brief aside; did you know that the term ‘feature phone’ is what’s known as a retronym? I say this because I was musing the other day about the point at which what had been universally referred to as ‘mobile’ became a feature phone. A bit like; when did Star Wars, become Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? Proof, if it were needed, that you are never too old to learn something new. Or be renamed.

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