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 need cash.
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 payments terminal?
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 another.
Making a secure payment that is highly personalised is a third.
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 today.
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.