Is cash so last year?
Credit and debit cards are handy for avoiding having to handle filthy lucre. But we often still have to do fiddly stuff like inserting cards into machines and keying in numbers.
If you dislike huddling protectively over the keypad when making a payment, there was good news this week: contactless payments are finally taking off in Ireland.
Bank of Ireland has announced that contactless payments by their customers rose 140 per cent year on year, with 4.25 million contactless payments in February, up from 1.7 million a year earlier.
The bank has given itself a big tap on the back, but is it really ahead of the contactless curve? Hardly. When it comes to payment methods, they may as well be in the age of grain bartering, because contactless technology has already surged ahead into smartphones and smartwatches.
When Android Pay was introduced in December 2016, allowing shoppers to pay for goods and services by tapping their mobile phone instead of a debit card, AIB and KBC were quick to offer this new payment method to their customers. Ulster Bank followed soon after.
Android Pay is more secure than debit cards, as the customer doesn’t have to give their card number to the vendor – the payment information is encrypted and constantly monitored for malware and fraud. Because of the added levels of security, users are not restricted to payments below ¤30. Last month, Apple Pay arrived in Ireland, and was swiftly taken up by Ulster Bank and KBC. Apple Pay works on the same principle as Android Pay, but with a choice of using a code or fingerprint recognition. Just tap your iPhone on any contactless terminal to make purchases.
Samsung Pay is expected to roll out in the UK during the summer, and in Ireland shortly after. Samsung hopes it will fuel sales of the company’s smartwatches, as customers will just have to wave their wrists over a card reader.
Mobile proximity technology needs both the support of financial institutions and customer adoption for it to take off, and many of its providers feel it is still moving at a snail’s pace. Perhaps we aren’t quite ready to let go of our dog-eared debit cards – and we’re still keeping a few bob tucked away in the mattress, just in case.