Nottingham buses driving towards the edge of a payment revolution

Nottingham buses driving towards the edge of a payment revolution
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ igor.stevanovic

The way we pay is constantly evolving. As fintech developers improve technology and innovate, making a payment has changed from a physical process to a digital one.

In the East Midlands, the latest example of this evolution came in the summer of 2018. Just as trentbarton announced it was going to spend £5 million on low emission buses, Nottingham City Council unveiled plans to overhaul its transport network’s payment system.

Given the final approval in July, the new scheme will be funded by a £2.4 million grant from the government and make contactless payments a standard on local buses.

By launching contactless payments in 2019, Nottingham will become one of the latest areas outside of London to offer this type of service.

The age of change

For customers, the tap-to-pay systems will not only speed up the process but open up a variety of alternative payment methods. Indeed, as well as being able to process debit/card transactions, the contactless technology can link up with PayPal and Apple Pay.

As well as convenience, offering consumers greater flexibility makes it easier to manage and protect their money. One of biggest errors people often make is keeping their entire net worth in a single account. In practice, this is no different to storing your money in a suitcase under your bed. A single break-in would leave you with nothing.

Fortunately, today, it doesn’t have to be that way, as alternative payment methods allow you to spread your assets and, in turn, pay for goods and services using a variety of options.

In fact, if you look across the business sector as a whole, there are now multiple methods, each of which offers their own level of convenience and protection. One of the most popular innovations of recent times is Apple Pay. Linked to iOS mobiles, this payment option essentially turns your device into a debit card. In terms of statistics, 1.2 billion iPhones have been sold since 2007.

Today, there are around 700 million in operation, meaning that Apple Pay is now among the most widely available new payment options in existence. Based on this, it’s little surprise that you’ll soon be able to use them on Nottingham buses as well as Tesco, Costa, Starbucks, McDonald’s and the Post Office. Although there were initial concerns over security, Apple’s TouchID technology essentially makes Apple Pay payments more secure than credit/debit transactions.

Moving towards easier ways to pay

Also gaining traction in recent years is PayPal. Prior to starting an electric car boom that’s now spread to the Trent Basin, Elon Musk was part of the team that created a new way to move, manage and store money.

Starting out life as Confinity in 1998, the company then merged with Musk’s X.com and became PayPal, in 2001. By 2002, the payment platform was taken public and from there it became the biggest online payment processor in the world. Helping the company’s directors grow their product was East Midlands-based business coach Stuart Ross. Using his experience guiding the likes of Expedia and Microsoft, Ross is a part of PayPal’s story.

Today, eBay is PayPal’s home but it’s available in many more places. In gaming, players can make secure deposits at sites like Betway using PayPal. Unlike bank transfers, PayPal facilitates instant deposits and withdrawals. In an industry where players want their winnings yesterday, PayPal has become a default option for many players.

Also becoming popular in the gaming industry over the last five years is Boku. A pay-by-mobile system, Boku allows customers to charge deposits to their phone bill. As well as working with the UK’s major mobile network providers, including O2, Vodafone and EE, Neteller also accepts Boku deposits.

The benefit of pay-by-phone bill systems is that users don’t need to remember their bank details. In place of typing in debit card numbers or any personal information, customers input their phone number and authorise the payment via SMS.

Verbalising digital payments

Beyond mobile methods and PayPal, the world of alternative payment methods is thriving. Cryptocurrencies have boomed since Bitcoin’s price topped $20,000/£15,600 in 2017 and now numerous companies are using it. In addition to Overstock.com and Virgin Galactic, you can now pay for Microsoft content using Bitcoin.

Taking this a step further, companies are now leveraging blockchain technology to develop their own unique payment options. Essentially a way for fans to have a better relationship with the businesses they support, branded digital coins like the ones offered by Arsenal FC.

Outside of the crypto sphere, voice-activated technology is vying to become the next mainstream payment method. Removing the need for swiping and tapping, Pay with Siri makes it possible to complete transactions with simple phrases. Although this technology is still in its early stages, Barclays bank has integrated Siri payments.

Like early versions of Apple Pay, security issues have been flagged up. However, just as other fintech innovations have improved, these concerns will dissipate and voice-activated transactions will become another wrinkle in the tapestry of modern payment methods.