Last month I watched the 20th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall with great interest. It certainly was a monumental step in the amalgamation of Europe on an economic and political scale, but it did make me wonder how close we are to a consolidated Europe when it comes to payments.
Settling down with my evening cup of hot chocolate to watch the world's events unravel on the news, I was met with an interesting advert and concept. They were promoting a mobile phone which could make payments. Ha! A new type of "pay" phone, I quipped to myself.
With projects in 13 markets, our lucky STS team gets to see some interesting places and people. Tokyo definitely tops the list of places to visit: the culture is amazing and we have some wonderful, supportive partners there. Tokyo also provides an insight into our future technology - what you see in Japan today, we see elsewhere tomorrow.
Recently at a hotel car park in the Midlands I was queuing to pay at a self-service machine. Bewildered of Birmingham was in front. They'd put in their card and were waiting for the usual PIN prompt, but nothing was happening. Or so they thought. The machine was actually waiting to be told that a card had been put in!
If, like me, you attended the recent Retail Solutions event in London you would have seen stands promoting contactless payments. I've reviewed this technology in its own right in previous newsletters and highlighting the benefits: speed of payment, zero cash handling costs for the merchant, convenience for the consumer, blah, blah.
Contactless payments was the hot topic at Retail Solutions this year, seen on stands as varying as Visa’s, Barclays as well as the hugely popular ‘Store of the future’ stand from Fujitsu (Radio One managed to omit that fact too and focussed on their excellent ‘does my bum look big in this’ mirror).
It seems that contactless is the word of the week in the payments industry, everyone is talking about it, but no one is quite sure what they are going to do about it, I guess everyone is waiting to see who jumps first.
I made three mistakes this weekend, the first was agreeing to go shopping with my wife, the second was opting to drive into central London on a drizzly day near Christmas and the third was entering one of London’s biggest department stores on a drizzly day near Christmas.
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