Social media sentiment provides a useful perspective on the evolution of contactless payments in the UK.
If you are interested in the perception of contactless cards in the UK you might find my podcast with Karen Williams from SpectrumInsight interesting. Just out of curiosity we’d asked SpectrumInsight if they could apply their social media analysis techniques to anything as boring as payments and Karen had risen to our challenge by agreeing to monitor the space for a month or so. We chose contactless payments as the specific sub-topic to monitor. Karen was kind enough to pull together what they found into a few slides for us to share on the blog and I’ve picked out four of them to highlight here.
That first chart seems to indicate, as you might expect, some correlation between topics being discussed in the mainstream media and the topics discussed on Twitter so this provides some confirmation that the discussions on Twitter are vaguely anchored in reality.
The second chart concerns the top themes that were covered in tweets about contactless. Unsurprisingly, “bank” and “debit” are at the top. But if you put together Oyster, buses and TfL, then actually transport would come top. I realise that this is a London-centric perspective, but I take these issues to be a reflection of the importance of mass transit in pulling contactless into the mass market.
The third chart concerns the issues that we covered in tweets about contactless. The main one, as you can see, is acceptance and (good news, I think) this reflects a general sentiment that people want contactless to be accepted in more places. I’m convinced that one of the reasons why cash is still more than half of all retail transactions in the UK (compared to 40% in the US where the near-ubiquitous no-signature-swipe provides the functional equivalent of contactless) is that small merchants in particular are not well served. I still see signs saying that cards are not accepted for transactions below (say) £10 when the merchants should really be demanding contactless-only transactions for small amounts (see Julian Niblett’s comments on this last year).
And that last slide looks at emotions, not something I normally consider when looking at the contactless adoption curve and therefore of great interest. See what you think, but I think we as an industry should probably be reacting to the “fear” area with some pretty clear messaging around how the technology works, how liabilities are distributed and the consumer protection that the combination provides.
From looking at these slides and talking to Karen, I think I draw three broad conclusions that I hope will be useful input to our clients strategies around the technology.
- First, I’m surprised that so many people were complaining that they wanted contactless cards but couldn’t have one (my son is one of them, by the way).
- Secondly, while it might hard to get people to try contactless it seems that once they try it then they like it and they want to be able to use it in more places. So we probably need to have short term focus on the getting them to use it that one time to get started. Maybe more focus on vending machines?
- Third, if the Twitter sentiment is anything approaching a reflection of what normal people actually think, I don’t understand the issuers’ baffling strategy of sending contactless cards to people who don’t want them and not sending them to people who do want them.
We’re going to be doing some more work with Karen in the world of payments over the next few months and she has very kindly agreed to come along to the Tomorrow’s Transactions Forum 2015 to talk us through what she finds. Mark the dates in your calendar now: