Is this the end of the cash register?

Oct. 7, 2014

An article in The New York Times, As PayPal Spins Off, Apple Pay Signals New Era at Cash Register, reported about eBay’s announcement that they were spinning off PayPal – the leader in digital payments. That same article went on to discuss the implications of Apple Pay, Apple’s new introduction in the cashless payment realm.

You should read the article. Two things to think about:

  1. Secure transactions: With all of the negative press around data breeches at big retailers, this is a huge issue going forward. Apple Pay, on an iPhone, uses encryption and a one-time code to protect users’ data when purchases are made.
  2. Broad acceptance: Cashless payment hardware and software are still new – for your businesses and for the shoppers you serve. At this time there is no Android version of Apple Pay. Only iPhone users can “play” for now – and Apple Pay is not “live” yet.

Many of you are thinking that this is irrelevant since we don’t have cash registers at our vending banks and micro-market installations. It’s not really about cash registers. It’s about how people pay for what we sell – beverages, snacks and food.

John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay, was quoted saying, “The way technology’s evolving, the way mobile technology’s evolving, we think you’re going to continue to see profound changes in how consumers shop and how they pay.”

Our industry is much better at being adaptive than we are at being innovative. Sometimes we are “late adapters” when investing in and deploying innovative equipment (hardware) and systems (software) at the locations we serve. It’s time for us to innovate – in a big way. We can win because we are the closest shopping alternative – especially for people “at work.”  We need to win, in the future, by enhancing our payment capabilities to satisfy the needs and wants of the younger generation.

Start by experimenting. Test at one or two locations. Learn what’s needed to communicate with shoppers at each site. Learn what you and your team must do to set up and execute flawlessly. Then do it and track it thoroughly. Identify what went right and what went wrong. Solve the problems. Make certain to eliminate those issues for the future.

Look at your own shopping habits – online and in-store. Talk with friends and family. Ask younger people, especially those under age 30, how they prefer to shop and pay. The future is cashless. The future is digital payments on smartphones. Will your business be part of the future?