News & Views - Savantor

Is 2014 the year for mobile payments?

Sunday, 09 February 2014
According to figures recently released by the UK Cards Association in their Annual Report for 2014, the key trends emerging in payment card usage include: A continued, albeit slowing, increase in the number of debit cards in issue - reaching its highest peak ever in November 2013, at 90.5 million, an increase of 1.68% over the previous 12 months. A decrease in the number of credit and charge cards, falling from its peak of 70.5 million in 2005 to 57.9 million in November 2013. An increase in online card spending of 66.1% during the period 2008 – 2012. 2013 proved to be pivotal in the adoption of contactless by the UK consumer, with a number of mainstream retailers accepting it as means of payment and building on its widespread use at the Olympics the previous year: By the end of 2013, the number of contactless cards in issue had increased to 39 million, up by 26% from the end of 2012. Although the number of contactless debit and credit cards in issue at the beginning of 2013 was comparable, the biggest increase during the year was in contactless debit cards, which showed an increase of over 30% of cards in issue, as opposed to contactless credit cards increasing less than half that amount. During 2013, 94 million transactions were made using contactless cards, which was treble the number made in the previous year. However, the continued evolution of payments in the mobile arena – both card and non-card based – is one of the areas that seems likely to promise the most exciting growth in the coming year. In January five U.K. financial institutions with a total customer base of 18 million – HSBC, first direct, Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank – announced their intention to roll out Zapp mobile payments for their customers. (Zapp is an independent subsidiary of VocaLink). At the beginning of February, UK telco joint venture Weve (EE, O2 and Vodafone) announced that it has teamed up with MasterCard with the intention of bringing NFC-based mobile payments to the masses. Visa announced at the end of last year that their initiative, a pan-European digital wallet service, was live in the UK, France, Spain and Poland and being offered by the Nationwide Building Society. At last there seems to be some consolidated approaches to offering UK consumers mobile capabilities – and it will be interesting to see how each of them fares, along with any other mobile initiatives already in place or introduced during the year.
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