I’m speaking at a conference on the future of payments today
for one of the world’s largest suppliers of payments terminals.
They asked me my views on the future of the point-of-sale, and
I said that it would disappear.
Not a good position to take when you’re the keynote speaker
at a conference for a payments terminal supplier.
So we debated the point and here’s the reason why payments terminals
might have a long-term future.
My logic for the end of the payments terminal is that there
are too many mobile substitutes appearing, and proximity payments based upon
mobile location will be the way of the future.
If it is true that mobile becomes accepted as a point of
sale globally, you no longer need points of sale.
But then I remembered that we said the same thing about cash
machines twenty years ago, and yet cash machines are still as diverse and deployed
as they were then, if not more so.
The reason is that the machine evolves to become something else.
Although we may still go to a cash machine for cash, the
machine does so many more things these days, with mobile top-up at the ATM
being one of the major revenue streams for a bank’s ATM network.
However, the core essence of the ATM is cash, and we still
The core essence of a payments terminal is a payment. We still need to make payments, but do we
need payments terminals to make them is the core question?
Will the Chip & PIN and contactless terminals of today evolve
into something else tomorrow?
What will that evolution involve?
What is the value proposition of the next generation
Well the basic proposition: making a payment, will still be
the core reason for having one.
Making a secure payment in a closed loop environment is
Making a secure payment that is highly personalised is a
But the biggest reason for having a payments terminal will be
that it is a dedicated one-trick pony.
A bit like a TV or a telephone, the dedicated one-trick pony
wins out over the multi-tasking mobile monster.
You may argue with this point, but think about your mobile
The good news is that it’s a phone, a camera, music player,
games console, cinema screen, web browser and more.
And yes, it’s a payments terminal too.
Does that mean that you no longer have a camera, music
player, games console, cinema screen, web browser and payments terminal?
There’s the question.