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MasterCard's Marion King gives her view on the future of cash

Marion King, MasterCard’s president for UK and Ireland, discusses the likelihood of a cashless society.

marion king mastercard

Marketing Week (MW): With the rise of digital currencies, what is your view on the future of cash?

Marion King (MK): There are different levels of take-up across the globe but I think that cash will increasingly be replaced, largely because of technological innovations and digital currencies via the smartphone. This will be a long-term shift but we are definitely heading in that direction.

We are seeing year on year growth in our transactions and more transactions online. What is interesting is that even though we are working in a stagnant economy at the moment and there are pressures on disposable income, we are seeing transaction levels rising. It is an indication that more people are moving away from cash.

MW: What innovations in payments can be seen at MasterCard?

MK: MasterCard has launched PayPass Wallet. It means that your payment details are stored in a wallet in a safe, secure environment, and it takes away the need for a consumer to key in name and address, 16 digit card numbers, cvc number and expiry dates before clicking to pay.

At the beginning of November we launched, with EE and iZettle, an acceptance capability for micro-merchants - traders that turn over less than £60,000 a year.

Where historically it has been costly and prohibitive for these retailers to accept cards, this innovation allows them to accept card payment wherever they are by plugging in a dongle into their smartphone.

MW: In terms of the investment in iZettle, do you feel consumers will be comfortable making payments using this technology?

MK: We piloted this before we launched and the reaction was positive. One of the reasons for that is because it’s focused on low value payments and is controlled so people feel safer using their card in this way. Consumers also sign with their finger. We were not sure how that would go down but it proved popular.

MW: What effect do you think this move towards a cashless society will have on retailers?

MK: It’s a very positive move. There is the obvious example of ease of use and security for the consumer but there are significant benefits in terms of data. Card transactions provide data, and we are able to use that to help merchants and organisations plan and understand buying patterns, and whether customers are moving more towards e-commerce and if so under what circumstances. If a customer uses cash, there isn’t that data.

MW: Do you think a move towards a cashless society has been driven by technological innovation?

MK: It is to do with how people live today. The most precious asset for everyone is time, it’s about ease of use, simplicity and speed and technology. If you haven’t got cash in your pocket, you have to find an ATM machine and then carry cash around. It is far less cumbersome to have a card in your pocket or your phone that you can tap on a terminal and transact. It is that approach that is driving the move towards a cashless society.

MW: What would your advice be to those retailers who take a cash-only approach?

MK: It would be to look at the innovations that are there - and there are specific innovations aimed at traders who feel that cash is the most affordable way forward. My advice would be to look at the value to their business that having card capability can bring in terms of data and security and certainty of payment. It helps cash flow and helps build a relationship with customers.

MW: Do you think a move towards a cashless society has been driven by technological innovation?

MK: It is to do with how people live today. The most precious asset for everyone is time, it’s about ease of use, simplicity and speed and technology. If you haven’t got cash in your pocket, you have to find an ATM machine and then carry cash around. It is far less cumbersome to have a card in your pocket or your phone that you can tap on a terminal and transact. It is that approach that is driving the move towards a cashless society.

MW: What would your advice be to those retailers who take a cash-only approach?

MK: It would be to look at the innovations that are there - and there are specific innovations aimed at traders who feel that cash is the most affordable way forward. My advice would be to look at the value to their business that having card capability can bring in terms of data and security and certainty of payment. It helps cash flow and helps build a relationship with customers.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Interesting interview but perhaps one-sided. Card payments are taking a larger share but in terms of number of transactions, cash remains dominant especially for lower values. Consumers may prefer the anonymity that cash provides and resent the data hungry retailers that follow purchasing behaviour. And retailers don't like the higher transaction fees, not to mention processing time that card issuers charge. If it takes three times as long to process a card payment than cash, queues build up and customers are not so well served. I predict that the demise of cash is exaggerated.

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  • I agree with Brian that the demise of cash is being exaggerated. However, in my experience card payment times have improved, and now with chip and pin they are usually quicker than cash payments' times. Contactless, NFC card payments for amounts less than GBP20 are even faster, and far preferable to waiting for change to be counted-out and handed over, for me to have to fumble into a purse or pocket. 'Mobile wallets', including those using NFC for example, will be a further, welcome step forward for many people.

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