In Summary
  • Safaricom is piloting “1-tap” to enable customers to make M-Pesa purchases faster, just by tapping their phones against a shop device.
  • Going cashless means a temporary separation of the haves and the have-nots.
  • Sweden is the most cashless society on earth, with an estimated 80 per cent of transactions done in plastic, where the number of notes and coins circulating has been dropping.

A few days ago, Visa launched m-Visa to enable more people to use cards for safer, faster payments. 

MasterCard also has MasterPass and both these card companies are rolling out these new payment systems that use QR codes or bar codes to capture payment transactions across Africa.

Meanwhile, Safaricom is piloting “1-tap” to enable customers to make M-Pesa purchases faster, just by tapping their phones against a shop device.

All these systems hope to reduce the need for customers to use cash. But a recent trip to England showed that while Kenya is considered the king of person-to-person remittances, other countries are doing very well in the race to cashless payment systems.

From ordering fast food, paying for drinks, or paying to use trains and buses, the use of cash is clearly slower and less preferred.

At several supermarkets in the UK, there are now more self-service checkout registers where shoppers themselves scan the products they are buying, and then tap their phones or cards to pay for the items.

Meanwhile, the queues to pay by cash to human cashiers are fewer and much slower. They are usually used by older, less tech savvy people, tourists or foreigners (like me) who are confused by the many odd-sized coins in Britain.

It was the same story at the underground and cross-country train stations where there were more machines set out for non-cash than cash payment.

If you were paying by card, you could walk up and be done in less than a minute but if you were paying by cash, it took between 5 and 10 minutes to queue and transact at busy stations.

Going cashless means a temporary separation of the haves and the have-nots. Both groups all end up using the same train coaches, but those with tap credit cards and iPhones, or who use Samsung pay and Android pay get to take the earlier trains because their payments are processed faster than those who pay using cash.

'SWEETS AND MATCHBOXES'

What else happens in life because of faster processing and payments?  Such people spend less time queuing and waiting at restaurants and social events and perhaps enjoy their experiences more as a result.

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