Leadership & Productivity

SMEs risk losing half of customers if cashless payments aren’t accepted

3 min read

18 August 2017

Former special projects journalist

SMEs are being warned that one in every two customers might walk away from a transaction if cashless payments methods were not made available.

As payment and consumer trends continue to change, UK firms have been warned one in every two customers will walk if cashless payments aren’t offered.

This is according to research from business technology provider First Data, which reported that card payments are the preferred payment method for 59 per cent of 1,000 survey respondents. Rather than seek out a cash machine, 43 per cent would abandon the purchase or go elsewhere if no cashless payments options were not available.

Research suggests it is typically small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that are falling behind on payment options. Almost two-thirds of respondents claimed the small businesses they visit do not accept cards, with restaurants, bars and pubs highlighted as the main offenders.

The top considerations for consumer payment preferences were speed and security, with 98 per cent claiming they prefer contactless payments because it’s faster. Nearly half (48 per cent) value a shopping experience with little interaction with store advisors.

Meanwhile, frustrations with cash included the fact it can be easily stolen or lost (35 per cent) and that it is harder to keep track of spending (27 per cent).

The survey also found a generational difference, with 69 per cent of over 55s claiming they still carry cash in case of emergency. Only 20 per cent of over 55s would be willing to go totally cashless, compared to 50 per cent of 18-24s.

Raj Sond, general manager at First Data, said: “Historically, smaller retailers have been put off by the perceived cost of card acceptance, however when considering the banking time, cost and handling risk when it comes to dealing with cash, the cost of card acceptance is not the prohibiting factor it once was. 

“Payment is a crucial part of the customer journey and experience and cannot be ignored in the quest for growth and loyalty.”

The average card transaction value is at its lowest for 16 years and contactless cards now account for around 30 per cent of card payments.
According to the UK Cards Association, as of April 2017 there a total of 108.4m contactless cards are currently in issue in the UK. That’s made up of 72.6m debit cards and 35.8m credit cards. The average contactless transaction was £9.40.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.