How did you pay for coffee this morning?

Paula Tate
20-Aug-2019 14:16:19

There are a few options- perhaps you used your loyalty points to get your free coffee, perhaps you used your debit card and typed your number into the numerical keypad, perhaps you reached into your pocket and paid by cash, or perhaps (and more likely, in fact) you swiped your debit or credit card and within a moment were able to continue on your caffeinated way.  

Contactless payments are growing exponentially; a trend that the leisure industry cannot afford to ignore. In 2017 when contactless first launched,  the uptake was slow, so slow in fact, that many people thought it may just be another great idea that would never reach the masses, but the introduction of contactless on the London underground led to huge uptake of the technology and now, most of us cannot imagine having our pockets burdened with 1p pieces any more. 

The reasoning behind the slow uptake is simple; we were collectively, worried about the security of such an easy interaction. But slowly (and thanks to the London underground) we crossed that chasm, and now in the UK we are the most intensive user of contactless technology in Europe.  

Contactless transactions increased threefold in 2017 and that is simply growing. There are 74.9 million contactless enabled cards in the UK and it makes up for over a third of transactions paid by debit card. This is big business; not least because it is so easy to buy.  

Many experts predict that cash will only make up 34% of transactions by 2024, but there are others who think this is a conservative estimate and think that the cashless society is around the corner.   

The leisure industry- potential leaders in cashless provision  

In the leisure industry, Gladstone research has shown that roughly 46% of transactions are cash, 45% debit card, and 9% credit card.  Clearly this will vary by site and by customer demographic, but it is obvious that cards outstrip cash. The benefits of a cashless centre are not just limited to security; the time saving element cannot be ignored, and additionally the increased ability for customers to buy goods and services on demand can improve customer satisfaction and free up your staff.   

Many leisure centres in the UK are already offering a cashless solution, whereby customers top up an account and call off funds to spend in centre, and that is also set to grow. Leisure centres are the perfect place to lead the retail world into a new technological age; cashless and loyalty solutions are becoming more customer focussed and helping to increase customer satisfaction and revenues. Cashless accounts allow parents to top up for children, allow people to limit their personal spend, and also create a far easier customer journey  

What’s around the corner?  

With the news that an Amazon Go Store is set to launch in London soon, then perhaps it is easier to see how the leisure industry could operate using future technologies. Amazon Go is essentially a grocery store where customers simply pick up the items they want and leave; the ultimate grab and go- a complex system of cameras watches and records who leaves with what and charges the customer for their shopping as they leave. So, what could this mean for the future of the leisure industry: 

  • Customers could add services on demand i.e. add a sauna session on the fly after a swim instead of having to go back out to the front desk to pay 
  • Grab and go food and beverage 
  • Debt collection using QR codes and SMS 
  • Out of centre opportunities; payment for outdoor sessions could be taken on the spot 

For now, though, the leisure industry must make the most of their customer’s changing habits; over half of over 65s are using contactless technology regularly- making it faster and easier to pay can only be a good thing for everyone.  

Ask us how we can help you on your cashless journey today 


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