Elavon’s Response to the UK Governments Call for Evidence: Cash and Digital Payments in the New Economy
Elavon is a global payments provider that provides end to end payment processing and solutions to more than 1 million businesses worldwide, from small to enterprise-sized. We are the leading payment provider for airlines and a top five provider of hospitality, healthcare, retail, and public sector/education.
The whole payment ecosystem is due to change
Technological innovation has made the process of paying and accepting payments easier and more secure than ever before. If you think back to our very recent history, the world wide web revolutionized commerce, enabling global access from our desks. Then smartphones changed the world again, enabling access to anything from anywhere. We believe in the next 2 to 3 years the whole payment ecosystem will change again, driven by advances in biometrics and artificial intelligence. History tells us that any initial resistance or reticence will be quickly overcome.
According to the Office for National Statistics (2017 internet access survey), 90% of households in Great Britain have internet access with 73% of adults accessing the internet ‘on the go’ using a mobile phone or smartphone. In terms of purchases, 77% of adults bought goods or services online. Digital payments have made a huge difference to our lives and are now the norm for a whole generation. It is not just about the next generation, the payment experience is changing for all of us, irrespective of the demographic.
Consumers have traditionally worried about the safety of electronic transactions for as long as they have existed. Today, global standards, platform-based technology, sophisticated security, friendlier interfaces and a better understanding of what the consumer really wants are breaking down these barriers, but this has been very much led by the private sector. We would like to see the Government take a more active role in this area and help educate the consumer about digital payment methods and give confidence to all about what existing and future methods are approved and safe to use.
Cash is moving from a currency of convenience to insurance
Consumers in the UK are very card-centric with cards accounting for 52% of all e-commerce transactions in 2017. The phenomenal growth rates of contactless payments are not surprising as they have made small payments far easier for both consumers and businesses, cutting queues at tills and making everything from taking the bus to buying a coffee more convenient. When you look at the history of how humans have paid for things over time, nothing has ever died out – from bartering to all new forms of digital currency. The use of cash is reducing but we see it as moving from a currency of convenience to insurance.
The Nordics is an excellent example of an early adopter of a cashless society and 10 years ahead of the UK. The most common way for consumers to pay is by card and e-wallet. It has one of the most efficient banking payment infrastructures in the world and a BanklD system which can also be used to demonstrate identity. Equally, Poland has become_one of the worldwide leaders in contactless payments. The Government has partnered with the private sector to help achieve this and has created a modern and efficient e-government with a high percentage of cashless turnover. The UK Government would do well to look at the Nordics and Polish models to see what is achievable with strong cooperation between the countries, banks, and Governments.
We have provided further information in our response to the ‘call for evidence’ and would welcome the opportunity to share Elavon’s experience and recommendations as a global provider of payment technologies. It is essential that our economy is fit for the future and the Government keeps pace with the changes in digital payments.
Colin Close, Managing Director
UK and International Corporate Elavon, Inc.