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‘Contactless’ is stuck in elderly land

‘Contactless’ is stuck in elderly land

Marcel Woutersen

Senior Communications Consultant

  • 14 June 2016

‘Contactless’ is stuck in elderly land


We can buy our groceries, movie tickets and a cup of coffee with just a simple slide of our bank card or a single touch on our smartphone. But even though this ‘new’ payment systems were introduced years ago, a recent survey of Future Thinking shows a lack of trust. If ‘contactless’ wants to grow, it really needs to get the elderly on board.

The survey of Future Thinking shows that only 9 percent of the 2315 respondents use contactless. These respondents express the hope that the limit, which in the UK is currently 30 GBP, keeps going up. Another 27 percent said that they do use contactless payments, but they would like to keep the 30 pounds maximum. The majority (31 percent) simply does not trust contactless and therefore they do not use it. Especially the older respondents of that group seem to have a lack of confidence in this payment method.

The usual reluctance

What is it that these skeptics fear? Digital pickpocketing, mainly. They think theft is easier if authentication is not needed. Of course there is a limit to the amount of money a consumer (or thief) can access, but people do not want to go through the kerfuffle of getting their money back. “As with all new technologies there is still some reluctance towards this technology, particularly amongst older age groups, who may be further isolated as we move towards mobile pay and other tech-enabled purchase solutions”, Noreen Kinsey, Senior Research Director at Future Thinking, stated.

But there are more issues that contactless payment has to address. The Euro Retail Payments Board listed several objections to the new technology in its report Mobile and Card-based Contactless Proximity Payments:

  • There is currently a lack of familiarity amongst customers, which inhibits the employment of contactless payments. This is strengthened by the fact that there is a variety of solutions available in the market and their adoption differs between countries. In other words: some consumers just don’t realize that contactless payments exist and if so, how it works.
  • The average take-up of contactless payments by merchants is still low because it is usually linked to renewal of the point of interaction (POI) and the associated costs. If retailers are not renewing their payment system, they are unlikely to consider contactless payments.
  • Consumers are not only hesitant to pay with this new technology because of privacy and security concerns, but also because there are different ways of interacting with a POI: ‘There still seems to be a lot of uncertainty when consumers face a POI and wish to perform a contactless payment: is the POI contactless enabled, where should I wave my consumer … has the payment been executed, do I get a receipt?’

Barriers will vanish over time

It can be argued that most of these barriers will vanish over time. When merchants renew their POI, they are likely to consider contactless payments. The more retailers offer this payment technology, the more consumers will become familiar with the different ways of interacting.

To do this the industry should invest in campaigns and applications to fill the gap between the internet and the elderly. The trust issues with contactless payments can not disappear when the older people do not even (know how to) use the internet. Let alone how to use contactless payments.