In a series of interviews, Microsoft founder Bill Gates highlights the value of digital currency. He says because many people in developing countries don’t have access to traditional banking — it’s not financially viable for banks to put branches in areas where the amounts stored and transferred are very small — “these people” are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to exchanging, saving, and accessing money.
Globally 85% of consumer transactions are done with hard cash, whereas in Australia it seems cash transactions drop as low as 14 per cent. At the centre of this rapid transformation is the smartphone, which has become the network for people’s lives both online and offline. Among the biggest opportunities may be the digital currency. The convenience and speed of this type of payment has been beneficial for cashless payment and the availability of “tap and pay” on mobile phones is set to drive this transition even faster.
The move toward a cashless society is supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s “Better Than Cash” alliance, which aims to accelerate the shift to electronic payments. The group focuses on raising awareness of the benefits of replacing physical cash with electronic payments — particularly in a way that expands the benefits of financial inclusion and savings for the poor.
For businesses, a cashless future may require the complete overhaul of how the retail sector thinks and operates. Powered by technology, the payment landscape is shifting. Globally, almost six billion people now have access to a mobile phone.
The Australian National University research confirms Australia will be a cashless economy in the next decade. CBNC rank Australia as number six in the top 10 cashless societies worldwide. Currently 86 per cent of consumer payments use an electronic method. Although mobile technology, specifically phones, currently make up the majority of technical payment focus, other lesser -known technologies are poised to enable a broad new world of internet-connected commerce.
For example is PayPal’s Beacon and Apple’s iBeacon, which use proximity-based Bluetooth connections instead. A small vibration alerts customers’ phones upon crossing a store’s “digital fence” and syncing with apps to provide inventory, floor plans, discounts, and preordered items. Payment would occur online, with the cashier simply confirming your registered picture for purchase security.
However, it is not just mobile payments that technology is advancing; it has also given modern retailers insights to customer behavior and in real time. By understanding customer behavior at a more granular level, retailers are finding tremendous benefit by aligning their in-store labour to meet customer demand and optimal product placement.
No longer are retailers relying on ancient technologies to measure the performance of their most expensive asset — their stores. The use of advanced forms of analytics allows retailers to assess and implement changes that drive increased conversions in much the same way online retailers have done.