It’s no secret that more consumers are migrating toward credit and debit cards for payments, and away from cash and hard-copy checks. The Federal Reserve reports that 80% of consumers currently own a debit card compared to 78% who own a credit card and 17% who own a prepaid card. And as of 2011, 31% of purchases in the U.S. were made by debit card, 29% were made by credit card, 26% were made with cash, and 7% were done by paper check. Paperless, cashless, call it what you will – but the use of plastic is on the rise.
How’s this, though, for the next wave of electronic payments – no more point of sale. That’s right, say goodbye to standing in the checkout line waiting to pay. You add an item to your cart, scan it with your mobile phone, and when you’re ready to pay, do so from your virtual wallet on your phone. Sound sci-fi? Not if you ask leading big-box retailers like Walmart and Best Buy, which recently spoke on a panel at the 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum. “What I’d like to see is very little to no point of sale,” stated Jamie Henry, Walmart’s senior director of payment services, at the Forum. “How can we streamline that experience at the point of sale, and how can we streamline the point of sale overall just to get that customer in and out of our store.”
Part of this initiative will clearly involve enabling more mobile payments – which is why in August 2012, major retailers banded together to create the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a joint venture between some of the leading U.S. retail companies to offer a new platform for smartphone-based transactions.
What does this mean for payments? Well, mobile payment usage will clearly rise with a uniform platform to pay for goods, but so too will electronic payments – more credit and debit usage, with the ease of use of a virtual wallet. Say goodbye to cash and the register!