Mobile Pay and Go:

The Future of Safe and Contactless Payments in Retail

Written by Rebekah Moss 09 Apr 2020 - 5 Minutes reading time

Mobile Pay and Go existed well before COVID-19, but with the pandemic driving social distancing measures at the checkout, let’s take a closer look at this ultimately contactless method of paying in-store.

Retailers like Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s have been piloting the Mobile Pay and Go app throughout select stores, allowing customers to spend up to £30 via card, google pay or apple pay by simply scanning items via an app; and checking out in the same way.

In an example of a service that redefines contactless payments; examining how customers can utilise these models, the definition of contactless as 'card not present' is expanded Keywords like NFC and Remote are thrown to the back burner as we focus on how we can utilise Mobile Pay and Go to keep a customer in-store.

Much like these two retailers, Amazon launched its first cashier-less supermarket in February in the US, following the launch of its 25 Amazon Go stores. As announced in March, this same cashier-less software has since been white-labelled by Amazon for sale to other retailers in an effort to scale the use of these services on a national basis.

‘Mobile Pay and Go’ vs ‘Just Walk Out’

Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ software is definitely a more proprietary software; designed on integrating a multilayered and hardware heavy approach to contactless shopping.

Where Amazon’s customer-directed approach actually utilises a reliance on cameras and weighted sensors to monitor a customer’s movements and actions in a store - allowing the customer to literally walk out of a store confident that their purchase will be charged to whichever card is on file in their Amazon Go account - Mobile Pay and Go is vaguer in the available details.

Whilst Marks and Spencer describes the process as a simple scan and checkout method via its app, their implemented spending cap and necessitation of customer details are the assumed extent of their security measures.

Like Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s uses the same method via their SmartShop app; allowing customers to scan and buy items and checkout via card, apple pay and google pay; earning Nectar points as they do.

However, customers still need to checkout their compiled virtual cart via a QR code at ‘SmartShop’ exit points in the store before they’re able to leave. This same feature is also available through handheld devices that customers can use in the store.

Other retailers such as Tesco and Asda have implemented similar technology via ‘Scan, Pay, Go’.

Whilst Marks and Spencer have extended their trial to 100 stores in light of the COVID-19 crisis, Tesco has restricted the use of cash payments with their service which would require customers to ultimately complete their purchases at a till.

In an effort to further reduce the number of cash and card-present transactions, the contactless limit in the UK has been increased from £30 to £45; however, Tesco has decided not to increase this in their stores.

Is There Place for Mobile Pay and Go?

Systems like Sainsbury’s SmartShop app have been in place since September 2018 and perhaps it is with the rise of Apple Pay and undoubtedly, Coronavirus - and the onus to manage our own personal hygiene - that we’re beginning to evaluate the ways in which we shop and will continue to shop.

Not only will supermarkets need to exist after social distancing measures are loosened; but the pressure on online delivery services has been overwhelming. In fact, Mobile Pay and Go is arguably something that should be applied to all brick-and-mortar retailers.

As the UK was put on lockdown, online supermarkets such as Ocado found themselves shutting down in an effort to restructure in light of the overwhelming need to cater to a surge in home deliveries.

Completely eliminating the delivery of bottled water amongst some of its products to increase their delivery capacity, Ocado and other retailers are still facing delays in fulfilling consumer demand. As a result, by the time orders were fulfilled, customers found that their orders were substituted due to similar delays with the updating of product inventory.

Understandably, those who are able to, are still going to the supermarket. With further social distancing measures in place to limit the number of customers in-store as well as measures to keep them 2 meters apart and following a one-way system; there is a growing argument to at least expand mobile pay and go services to reduce checkout times and queues on a national basis.

“I was able to buy lunch in under 40 seconds – in fact, it was more like 15 seconds.” SAM RICHARDSON - Lovemoney.com

After Lockdown:

The extent of the pandemic we’re all collectively experiencing is still unknown. We do know that the economic impact is and will continue to be tough with steeper declines and recoveries for certain industries. The demand for supermarkets will always exist, and it is hopeful that the highstreet might recover with growing support to preserve small businesses.

However, whether it be the choice of the retailer or the FCA, the pursuit of further contactless options seems rational. Dr Fauci - the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease - the man seen leading the defence against COVID-19 in the United States, has stressed that:

“You say, what are the things you could still do and still approach normal? One of them is absolute compulsive hand-washing. The other is you don’t ever shake anybody’s hands.”

Leading the pursuit of contactless payment methods goes beyond optimised checkout flows and allowing customers to pay safer with the payment methods that are air-tight in the context of fraud, but rather it has to be about allowing customers to be safe whilst making payments.

The Downsides:

Much like the hospitality sector, the topic of automation is controversial. Whilst there is a lot to utilised in improving the customer experience; the threat to the employment always looms. Equally, like this same sector, an argument can be made for the generation of new jobs that surrounds the customer service and management of new technologies as they’re introduced to the retail environment.

Whilst the reform of payments is yet to be defined, the acceleration of Mobile Pay and Go services seems like a likely avenue to be pursued. With cash and card-present transactions on the decline, there are moments of perspective to be gleaned for the retail sector in the challenges that arise during this pandemic.

Total Processing has not faltered in the [service (https://www.totalprocessing.com/blog/coronavirus-small-business-update-covid19) we’re offering our merchants during this time.

If you’re looking to know more about the contactless payment methods you can offer your customers during this time do not hesitate to get in touch!

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