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British businesses respond to UK launch of disruptive retail channel Apple Pay

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It was revealed in June that Apple Pay would soon launch in the UK and it finally has. It will receive a large scale push from the off as Starbucks, Nando’s, Boots, McDonald’s and Pret are among just some of the large companies to accept the new form of mobile payments from Apple.

However, the tech, which allows payments in-store and in-app using a combination of fingerprint scans and contactless transactions, is only available to users of the iPhone 6 or Apple Watch – limiting the number of people who can adopt the service.

As such, Barclaycard has set out to capitalise on those consumers who may feel left out, having launched the bPay wearable payment devices in July, which arrived as a wristband, keyring and sticker, to provide contactless payments to the masses.

With Britain’s retail sector preparing to be overhauled significantly in the coming weeks and months, senior business executives from the UK have provided their thoughts and feelings on the Apple Pay launch to Real Business.

Andreas Pouros, COO and co-founder at digital marketing company Greenlight, said:
“How we pay is fundamentally changing. Consumers are demanding faster, more convenient ways to pay on and offline. While Apple Pay will accelerate that change, it is little more than a footnote in the grand scheme of things. If payments are to become truly ‘contactless’ the mobile barrier must be removed entirely.

“Implanted microchips offer the most elegant solution, but remain too ‘sci-fi’ for most people. Biometric payments are more likely to gain mass acceptance in the short term and we are already seeing banks experiment with facial, fingerprint, and finger vein recognition. The question is will retailers and consumers be as fast to embrace these new ways to pay?”

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret A Manger, said:
“We’re looking forward to customers trying out Apple Pay for the first time in one of our shops. We were one of the first UK retailers to offer contactless payment and today half of all card payments at Pret are contactless. We’re delighted to make paying even more convenient for many with the introduction of Apple Pay, including payments over £20 – an advantage if you’re doing the office lunch run.”

James Davies, head of channel partnerships EMEA at location marketplace xAd, said:
“The launch of Apple Pay means mcommerce will inevitably increase because the service works in two situations, in-store and in-app. Apple Pay makes the latter much easier by reducing the number of hoops a person has to jump through to order a product on their mobile device especially when out and about. However, the in-store element is very significant. According to Deloitte, 88 per cent of UK retail transactions still happen in-store and Apple wants a slice of that action.

“As mobile devices continue to play an increasingly important role in people’s shopping habits, particularly in the context of purchases in bricks and mortar stores, manufactures and retailers need to find ways to take advantage of this. Apple Pay has the potential to bring some new insights into shopper behaviour which, when combined with techniques such as location targeted marketing, could result in more personalised and relevant offers and promotions for consumers.”

Read more on Apple Pay:

Dan Wagner, ecommerce veteran and CEO of Powa Technologies, said:
“The platform has some constraints as it is only available to iPhone 6 and Apple Watch users and it relies on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. What shoppers really want is a ubiquitous solution which allows them to buy products anywhere, at anytime, from a range of mediums, using any digital device.

“The decision to only use NFC also drastically reduces the scope of its usage for retailers as they have to support NFC terminals. Apple Pay doesn’t support online shopping either – once again limiting what consumers can use it for.

“Despite Apple being an instantly recognisable brand, Apple Pay’s limitations mean it can only be seen as just another way to pay for things. To stand out in an already crowded market, new entrants should provide more than just a payments service. Many retailers don’t see a benefit in Apple Pay because they want a solution that will help them create an omni-channel sales offering, engage better with their customers and understand their shopping habits.”

Tom Reaney, Magic Roundabout/Burger Bear Tom, said: 
“A week before we started using iZettle’s contactless readers the queues at the bars were five people deep, the week after it was a steady flow. To compete with bigger businesses it is important that SMEs and sole traders can accept all payment types and move with innovation – so accepting Apple Pay is going to be vital.”

Jason Richelson, CEO and founder of Shopkeep, said:
“Predicted consumer adoption rates will undoubtedly dominate headlines following the UK launch of Apple Pay today, but it’s on the other side of the counter where we see the really interesting story. In research carried out by ShopKeep, the vast majority of smaller consumer-facing businesses with 1-50 employees are positive about Apple Pay, but don’t believe it will have a material impact on how they operate.

“Our experience in the US says this thinking is flawed. Business owners in the US that have been quick to embrace mobile payments are growing three times faster than the national average, and going out of business much less often (five per cent fail within one year vs the 25 per cent national average).

“There are several factors that lead us to predict consumer adoption rates that dramatically outpace the US precedent: the early adoption of Chip and PIN; the comparative success of contactless cards; the fact that the UK now spends more on card than cash; and the decision by TfL to accept this form of payment on London’s public transportation.

“People will expect cashless transactions wherever they go and if smaller business in particular want to prosper, they must embrace the technology. These systems have become readily available and inexpensive over the last few years and implementing them will assist in delivering an improved customer experience. Put it this way, any business that wants to exist in the future has to prepare for it.”

Continue reading on the next page to hear from App Annie, Westminster Business School and more for the impact Apple Pay will have on banking and why it will outshine bPay, while PayPal explains its “best kept secret”.

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