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What is the Most Convenient Way to Pay Today?

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As digital technology has continued to grow, so have the ways we spend and save cash. And with the majority of spenders now able to spend vast sums of money at the touch of a button (or the tap of a card) convenience has become the name of the game in the retail market. With over half of customers saying they value convenience the most in their spending, according to data from the National Retail Federation, vendors have never needed to provide a quick and painless shopping experience more.

But what exactly is the most convenient way to pay today? Cash has evolved drastically over the previous few decades, to the point where some are arguing physical cash doesn’t have much to offer the shopping experience anymore. Today, customers have more ways than ever to pay for their goods and services – but which are the easiest and most readily available for customers? And, more importantly, what do the statistics tell us?

What constitutes ‘convenience’ in spending?

According to Oxford Language, ‘convenience’ can be described as:

“the state of being able to proceed with something without difficulty.”

If limiting difficulty is the key factor in making convenient payments, one specific form of payment stands out above the rest: Contactless.

But contactless payments are no longer limited to just contactless card payments. Today, customers also have the option to take advantage of other forms of contactless, like contactless mobile payments and smartwatch payments.

With this in mind, let’s examine the three and try to determine which, if any, is the most convenient option for the modern consumer.

Contactless card payments

Contactless card payments truly changed the game from a convenience perspective when they were first introduced. But not straight away. In fact, they were quite restrictive in the beginning, with very few cards available and very low payment limits. But today, the majority of cards on the market are contactless, and customers can spend up to £100 in a single contactless transaction.

It takes less than a second for a contactless payment to be approved and go through, according to data from Lloyds Bank. However, this is as true for contactless card payments as it is for mobile and smartwatch payments because the technology is the same across the board. Because of this, and given that this is a comparison between various contactless technologies, we need to look at the specific processes involved in each of the payments to determine which is truly the most convenient.

Contactless card payments, for example, involve the spender having to remove the card from (typically) a purse or a wallet, tapping the card on the contactless card reader, and returning the card to the purse or wallet. Then, we need to consider the fact that wallets usually need to be removed from pockets, while purses often need to be removed from handbags, adding yet more steps into what seems to be a very convenient and straightforward process at face value.

However, even with all of the above, contactless card payments are the most dominant and widely used of the three, with over 90% of consumers using contactless, according to Lloyds Bank. This is likely due to the familiarity with the technology, as well as the fact most people carry their cards with them wherever they go. But most people also carry their mobile devices with them at all times, too…

Contactless mobile payments

Contactless mobile payments have become somewhat of a phenomenon, with one billion total mobile contactless users worldwide expected by 2024, according to data from Juniper Research. The popularity of the technology has exploded faster than many expected, with over 2.8 billion mobile wallets in existence, according to Statista.

The same data shows that the payment method is particularly popular in certain Asian countries, with China and Vietnam leading the charge. However, mobile payments are also growing in Western countries, like the UK and Canada. Globally, the mobile payment market is expected to reach a value of $18.84 trillion by 2030, according to Fortune Business Insights, an indication its popularity isn’t just set to increase, it’s set to increase dramatically.

Having said that, it’s easy to understand why when we’re talking about convenience. Once users have a mobile wallet in place – if you have a bank account, they’re very quick to set up – the contactless mobile payment process is easy. Rather than having to remove a card from a wallet or a purse, most users simply pull their smartphone from their pocket, bring up the mobile wallet and tap the device to make the payment. Many users also create shortcuts to their mobile wallets using their side keys, making payments even easier.

So, from a physical movement perspective, mobile contactless payments are even more convenient than contactless card payments. But how do wearables measure up?

Smartwatch (wearable) payments

Another market that’s predicted to grow at a rapid rate, the wearable payments market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 29.8% by 2028, according to Grand View Research.

Much like mobile contactless payments, smartwatch payments can be achieved by simply activating the mobile wallet and tapping the device on the reader. But because the device is already (usually) located on the user’s wrist, this eliminates yet another step in the payment process, making smartwatch payments arguably the most convenient of the three.

Choose a reputable contactless card machine provider for all your contactless needs

Whether you’re Team Card, Team Mobile or Team Smartwatch, there’s no denying contactless payments are the way of the present and the future, which is why businesses everywhere should be taking advantage of them. If you’d like to onboard contactless payments in your business, choose a reputable contactless card machine provider to help you make the most of the various contactless technologies customers can use to pay today.