Apple Pay, Samsung Pay – OK, but what of digital currencies?

Written by on August 21, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Portable USB flash drive is wrapped in a dollarThere is so much going on in mobile payments at the moment that it is quite easy to forget one important stakeholder. The retailer, particularly the smaller one. The choice and array and pressures are now enormous. And rising. If you don’t embrace Apple Pay, says the press, you will lose out. If you are not ready for Samsung Pay, with its technology that mimics a mag strip swipe, then your customers will walk. And you won’t even need any extra equipment. Meanwhile, Google Pay is catching up with Apple Pay and so you have to accept that as well. And that is not counting the huge variety of options from the more traditional players, such as banks and credit card companies. And now, of course, telecoms operators are getting into the game, with offerings such as EE’s Cash on Tapp.

Choosing the right payments solution, say many observers, will attract and keep customers. Get it wrong, so the implication goes, and you will soon be closing the doors.

There is cash, of course, and cash is still a retailer’s best friend. There are no charges involved, you can take it to the bank and deposit exactly the amount you hand over. Frankly, we would welcome the return of cash. Every time you transfer money, pay someone, or pay a bill, the money arrives at the other end with a greedy little bite taken out of it by our friends in the banking world.

The answer to the confusion may lie in the digital world. In the blockchain.

Bitcoin, recently in the news over a full and frank discussion about whether to increase the number of transaction per ‘block’ is now being accepted in more and more outlets. The US is leading the way, but many other regions are catching up. These new digital currencies are compelling for a number of reasons. First, the days of three percent charges (greedy little teeth marks) are gone. Second, it is cool (for the moment) and we should never underestimate cool. Third, and perhaps the most compelling, is that our small retailer can choose not to turn the digital currency into cash immediately and actually use a customer’s payment as an investment.

This is risky, of course, and as we are told just before yet another bank goes bust, investments can go down as well as up. Who knew? But, with Governments realising that digital currencies are the currency of the future and exchanges springing up across the world, it would be a brave man who would bet on the demise of blockchain backed digital currencies.

With the flood of options, led by Apple Pay (soon to be challenged by Samsung Pay and others) the confusion is such that digital currencies just might be the way that retailers, large and small, go. Waving goodbye to those greedy little bite marks.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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