02 November 2016

Contactless payment and the final frontier

3 minute read

  • It is now predicted that the number of contactless cards in circulation in the UK alone will exceed 100 million later this year
  • Nationwide celebrates with the highest ever contactless payment on the edge of space at 100,000ft and minus 30 degrees Celsius
  • Whilst we may have tackled the Final Frontier, as technology continues to transform our day-to-day lives, what might the future hold?

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it is Nationwide making the highest ever contactless payment on the edge of space at 100,000ft and minus 30 degrees Celsius. If you cast your mind back to pre-2008 when contactless payments didn’t even exist, this is no mean feat. 

Whilst many of us were initially sceptical of contactless payments – according to our research 57% of Brits are surprised that the technology took off in the first place, it is now predicted that the number of contactless cards in circulation in the UK alone will exceed 100 million later this year. 

It would seem then that the allure of ‘tap and pay’ technology has captured us all, placing contactless payments among the top five most convenient innovations of the 21st century. Rivalling the likes of Smartphone and GPS, this handy method of paying sits comfortably in a world where we want quick and easy services at the tap of a card.

In June 2016 alone, more than £1.8 billion was spent on contactless cards. With Christmas just around the corner, not to mention Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the year-on-year increase is set to be staggering.

Spending habits have also been altered as contactless payments are encouraging consumers to make an increasing number of micro-transactions. Whether it’s your morning newspaper or afternoon tea, tap and pay technology is now being favoured over small change. I, like many others, love the convenience of paying for my daily coffee with contactless - so much so that one in ten are now surprised if contactless is not available when making a purchase.

“When making a payment one in ten are now surprised if contactless is not available.”

Whilst we may have tackled the Final Frontier, as technology continues to transform our day-to-day lives, what might the future hold? Alongside the likes of Paym, Apple Pay™ and contactless payments, Nationwide will continue to invest in and celebrate technology which makes life as easy and convenient for our members as possible. This includes the evolution of biometrics which looks set to pave the way for authenticating transactions as security becomes an increasingly important factor in the digital era.

Contactless in space infographic

Of course, sending a card to the edge of space did not come without its challenges. The fact that the payment took place three times higher than Mount Everest in a climate as cold as Antarctica wasn’t a problem, instead it was the little things that caused the biggest issues. These included having a special payment chamber created to withstand the inhospitable conditions, landing in a field of cows and yes, even getting stuck in a tree!

Nationwide has successfully celebrated the rise of contactless payments and will continue to commit to provide a range of quick, easy and secure ways for customers to pay. This, coupled with an emphasis on innovative technology and customer service, suggests a really exciting future as we continue to pioneer the payment landscape.

About the author

Paul Horlock

Paul Horlock is Head of Payments and represents Nationwide on the Payments UK Board.

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