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ICM data reveals confusion over contactless payments

10 December
09:58 2012

Research by ICM has shown that confusion reigns around contactless payments this Christmas, highlighting high consumer awareness but low usage of the technology.

The report shows that eight out of ten people surveyed (80%) knew what a contactless payment was, and 18% of shoppers knew they had a contactless payment card, but not everyone realised what the symbol on their debit or credit card meant.

Less than a third (32%) of people who have a contactless payment card are actually using it, and when they do use it, it’s infrequently – with one in ten (12%) buying something weekly or more often – and half (51%) spending £10 or less on their most recent transaction.

Security is also a concern, with consumers worried that a lost or stolen card could facilitate a very easy shopping spree.

With four in ten respondents saying that if the shops they visited most often offered contactless payment they would use it more, the research shows that retailers could do more. Richard Moller of ICM’s retail team said: “Retailer investment in contactless payment is essential to drive take up because consumer awareness and appetite already exist.

“More than half of the stores we visited didn’t even take contactless payment. In-store promotion is also vital. Of the 11 stores we visited with contactless payment technology, only three were actively promoting it, and only two – Marks & Spencer and EAT – had signage at checkouts. It is important that staff receive training too. Half of the sales assistants we spoke to in-store didn’t know if the shop took contactless payments, and over a quarter gave out the wrong information on payment limits.”

Half (49%) of respondents associated Barclays with contactless payments – increasing to 70% of those who have an account with them. In fact Barclays has a much higher association with contactless payment than all the other banks – at least half of Halifax (53%), Co-Op (53%), First Direct (50%) and Santander (50%) customers think that Barclays offer contactless payment.

David Perry of ICM’s financial research team said “It’s not surprising that Barclays is the best known contactless card provider since they are at the forefront of the game, but what is interesting is how widespread this awareness is amongst customers of other banks. This will help Barclays be widely viewed as a technology leader.”

Jamie Belnikoff, Associate Director at ICM who led the research, concludes: “There is a huge opportunity for retailers to drive revenues by developing and implementing a successful contactless payments strategy. However, as is often the case with new technology, it takes time to catch on, and there’s work to be done to communicate the advantages of contactless payment.

“As our mystery shopping visits have shown, the main challenge sits with retailers who have the opportunity to take advantage of high consumer awareness and appetite, much of which has been built by financial services providers. As retailers educate both staff and customers about ‘wave and pay’ technology, people will make contactless payments more often. Ultimately everyone will be able to feel the benefits of this new way to pay.”

Source: ICM Group

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