Written by Nicola McNeely, Partner and Head of Technology at Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors, and a member of the Technology Connected Technology Leadership Council.
The Covid-19 virus is causing unprecedented impact across the globe. We are already witnessing an increase in the use of technology and a decline in the use of physical cash payments in a matter of days – it could have a lasting impact on the adoption and the use of current contactless and blockchain-enabled payment technologies.
The Russian Government is restricting circulation of bank notes to decontaminate them and encourage electronic payments. The Chinese Government is also drafting legislation to enable the use of its new digital currency via the People’s Bank of China.
We use contactless payment technologies more so now than ever before. At the beginning of this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised against the handling of bank notes. Contactless and block-chain enabled payment technologies will help prevent the spread of Covid-19, and also get money desperately needed to our loved ones more quickly and more cheaply.
The impact of the virus has rapidly caused retail businesses to refuse physical cash.
Costa Coffee introduced measures across its 2,500 stores to accept only contactless payments and provide a take away only mode across the counter. Likewise the management and staff at the Humber Bridge are requesting drivers to pay their toll fees via the contactless payment.
Banks such as AIB, who were implementing a chargeable fee for consumers using contactless payment technology, have postponed the chargeable fee for the foreseeable future. Dutch banks have increased the cumulative limit of contactless payments from 50 euros to 100 euros in an effort to benefit consumers and employees of retail supermarkets. Safaricom, the largest telecom company in Kenya, announced that it would waive fees for the use of M-Pesa, the online mobile phone, block-chain enabled, money transferring service. All these steps are in response to Covid-19.
Our most vulnerable are now having to embrace online shopping and home delivery during self-isolation. The inability or, in some instances, unwillingness to use online payment technologies may well change as a consequence.
We are likely to see continued use and implementation of contactless and block-chain enabled technology and a further step away from physical cash payments.
Overall the adoption of technology will make for a brighter future, but people should at least have the choice for now to pay by whichever means they prefer.