Our smartphones have become the Swiss army knife of the digital world in the last decade or so, as they offer access to a whole host of apps and tools at the simplest touch of a button.
Arguably one of the most convenient things about them is how they can be used to make a range of different payments, and it was recently confirmed that a major retailer is now offering shoppers in Belfast the chance to use a mobile tool to buy goods at its stores.
Mobile Pay Go
At the end of July, M&S revealed that it was increasing the use of Mobile Pay Go technology across its stores, with the size of the network growing from just 100 food halls to 310. While the service was initially focused on the company’s London stores, its expansion means it is now on offer in areas including Dover, Canterbury and – most importantly – Belfast.
Featured in the M&S app, Mobile Pay Go operates in the exact manner that its name suggests. Customers open up the system in the app when they visit a store and then scan the items they are buying as they shop. Following that, payment will be taken from a pre-saved card, so they can leave the store with their shopping without having to visit a checkout point of any type.
Mobile Pay Go is available on shopping up to the value of £30, with M&S’s press release suggesting that it had already proven to be a major success. The company stated that more than 10,000 new regular users had been accessing the service since March.
A cashless city
The launch of the service in Belfast comes at a time when there is an increasing focus on going cashless both in the city and across Ireland as a whole.
In June, Center Parcs Ireland confirmed that its Longford Forest site was embracing cashless payments, while it was also revealed that Ikea was taking a similar step as well. Furthermore, we recently reported on Translink and its decision to extend mLink ticket options as it looks to boost the use of contactless payments and tickets. Such trends also tie into what is happening in other areas, with many sectors choosing to go beyond purely supporting traditional cash or cards and instead embracing other apps and services.
Online payment systems like Neteller have become very popular recently and its site details how a host of brands in sectors including education, insurance and shopping are now making use of it. The service has also been embraced by the online casino industry, with it being one of several payment options supported by Betway Casino. The site, which offers access to games including slots, blackjack and roulette, also allows members to make deposits using Visa, Visa Electron and PayPal, which is also very popular across the board. In fact, the official PayPal site also outlines how it is accepted by a host of brands ranging from tech companies like HP to popular sports brands. One of these is Adidas, which goes beyond just PayPal to support, in addition to the usual suspects, Apple Pay, as well as fintech success story Klarna.
By taking such steps, it could be stated that brands are ultimately looking to satisfy consumer demand. After all, research has suggested in recent months that consumers have shown an interest in embracing new forms of payment.
The global Visa Back to Business Study released at the start of August found that 78 percent of consumers had made changes to how they pay in the past few months, with almost half using contactless payments and 46 percent moving away from using cash. It revealed that 70 percent of people had used a new shopping or payment method for the first time recently as well.
The importance of contactless was emphasised by another key finding too, with the survey highlighting that 63 percent of people would actually switch, opting to use a new business that installed contactless payment options over someone they used to give their custom to previously that has no such solutions available.
An interesting time
When all of that is considered, it is clear that M&S has expanded its mobile payment system to areas including Belfast at a very interesting time.
Businesses and consumers are clearly intrigued by the potential of cashless and contactless approaches to paying, so the chances are that the iconic brand will not be the last to introduce such systems in Belfast and beyond.