[Julian Niblett] This morning I was in a rush and popped into Gregg’s to buy some breakfast. I had a little time to wait in the queue and I was immediately intrigued by some show material that had the bold headline ‘A fresh way to pay’.

Having spent the day yesterday talking to a group of tier 1 retailers about the future of payment and the cost of transactions, I am always looking at how each retailer approaches payment. I read the rest of the sign with interest and then spent the rest of my time in the store feeling very confused and then confusing the poor lady who was trying to serve me. So here you are waiting for this new innovation to see how Greggs are pushing the payment envelope – what is this fresh way to pay? Well let me tell you that the ‘fresh way to pay’ is that ‘you can now pay by card when you spend £3 or more’.  

Having worked in retail for many years and having personally rolled out contactless to a major retailer, then you have to wonder if it is too early in the morning when you see this sign and contactless payment in the same place. How is this a fresh way to pay and how does this make any sense?

At least Subway (I really do eat better than this) have a sign which allows you to pay by contactless for any value but has a minimum spend for credit and debit. Somebody there has at least done some maths and realised that they ought to use the nice new kit they have installed.

I tried to pay by contactless but I was told that my porridge was £1 so I couldn’t use my card and had to pay by cash. I tried explaining that my £1 porridge would only cost 1p in card fees as I had a contactless card and that the next customer using a debit card to spend £3 would cost them 8p! In the same scenario, contactless for £3 would cost half that. By now, I was holding up the fresh way to pay for other customers and was rather confusing the poor lady serving me so I bade my farewell after handing over my £1 coin.

My learning from this experience and from my presentation to UK retailers the previous day is this – people don’t know how much cards cost. So take my advice, have a look at the rates for contactless and go and re-work your card signs for minimum spends for cards and join us, Greggs, in the 21st century where there are truly fresh ways to pay for porridge.

This article was written by Julian Niblett, a Consult Hyperion associate. If you'd like to find out about becoming an associate, please email Lindi Friel at lindi.friel@chyp.com

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