Cashless society: the future for casual dining

Cashless society: the future for casual dining

Eloise Sheppard, managing director of Call Systems Technology, looks at the popularity of card payments and what this can mean for the industry.

Cards are the UK’s favourite way to pay, with just 30% of transactions still being notes and coins. As mobile payments gain traction, this could drop to 10% within 15 years. Considering card and digital payments processed £94 trillion in 2018, it’s clear this very big business is only going to get bigger.

Is the casual dining sector ready? It appears we’re moving in that direction. Two popular Incipio brands, Pergola Olympia and The Prince Earls Court, are already cashless, and other casual dining operators are looking at similar moves.

However, cashless has pitfalls. Technical glitches paralyse businesses, as Visa found in 2018 when an outage left them unable to process 5.2m payments over 10 hours. We’ve also seen more RFID crime whereby scammers programme a machine to take automatic payments while a card is still inside a wallet or bag then simply brush past the victim.

No conversation about cashless would be complete without mentioning cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, electronic money that allows people to spend without intermediaries. It’s cheap, efficient and can be converted back into sterling any time. In 2016, Cambridge University estimated cryptocurrency users at 2.9-5.8 million globally.

Some operators have adopted bitcoin to attract the digital audience, welcoming the increased payment options, irrespective of whether customers have heard of bitcoin – the point is, customers appreciate choice, and it’s viewed as a brand differentiator.

As an industry, we need to prepare for our future, whether that’s cashless, cryptocurrency or the next trend.