The last time I wrote about MasterCard was in December 2015, in an article entitled "MasterCard survey suggests ‘cash no longer king’ for Aussie shoppers", which was followed up in January 2016 by iTWire colleague Peter Dinham in his article entitled "Australia heading towards a ‘cashless’ future - soon", which predicted that within five years, Australia could be cashless.
Forgive me, dear reader, for I am going to set the scene a little first, as I see it, but I trust you’ll find it an informative read and/or mini-rant before we get to the promised video (which is below as you'll see when you scroll down).
Over the last few days on Ben Fordham’s Sydney Live programme between 3pm and 6pm on Radio 2GB, there have been callers to the program complaining that some banks have been telling their customers they won’t accept cash deposits on a Saturday, while another bank (guess which?) has denied that what a caller reported to the programme was incorrect, namely that the Edgecliff branch had staff that warned withdrawals in cash over the counter would soon oddly only be possible in amounts over $2000, with everyone else directed to the teller machines.
Whatever the role of banks in nudging people towards a cashless future and cashless society, and financial institutions, phone companies and more pushing us towards contactless payments, with even the federal government (wisely) foreshadowing the 5c coin would end up going the direction of the 2c and 1c coins before it, the reality is clear: while ever our current financial and economic systems are in place, cash is slowly — and at ironically an ever faster rate — going ever more cashlessly digital.
Of course, should there be some kind of revolution, politically, financially and globally, we may end up going back to bartering, or using shells as currency, or more likely, some form of sound currency backed by gold, silver and other precious metals, but for the moment, such flights of financial fancy or fantasy are the realm of conspiracy theorists and financial doom and gloomers.
Were any such scenario to actually unfold, it would be the end of the world as we know it, and would lead to very hard times indeed for the world at large, so if going to a cashless society can prevent such societies from happening, going cashless will be a heck of a lot better than the alternative of a globe gone feral, with trade shut down and whatever else any such revolutions might entail, none of which are terribly enticing.
Cashless societies might make it a lot harder for the black market to flourish and for people to be paid in ‘cash’, to avoid taxes or other scrutiny, but in those cases, some other form of bartering would likely ensue. Black markets are notoriously impossible to shut down, so even if the cashless blow came in full force, physical gold, silver or something else would take cash’s place in those scenarios.
So, with our present reality still firmly entrenched, with people still holding full faith in fiat currencies, and with the world as we know it reliant on the systems we all use today, it should come as no surprise that cash is becoming ever more inconvenient to hold, fiddle with, safeguard and handle.
It should also come as no surprise that contactless payments, such as the NFC-enabled "paywave or tap and go" systems. our credit and debit cards have become wildly popular in Australia, with even smartphone payment systems such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay properly in Australia at last, even if limited to a select range of financial institutions for the time being.
I love using my NFC enabled debit card to "tap and go", and if my bank was smarter, it would have done a deal with Apple and Samsung by now too, instead of leaving ANZ and Amex to join Apple Pay first, and Citibank and Amex first to join the Samsung Pay side of the fence.
Another thing that should not be surprising is that a company such as MasterCard is less a financial institution (as it works with financial institutions across the globe) and more of a technology and innovation company these days, as Duursma explains in the video interview we did earlier this week.
It’s a solid 30-minute interview with a range of issues discussed, with even a live demo of MasterCard’s "identity check" system that allows "selfie payments" to be made, with the addition of fingerprint biometrics if desired, and I gratefully thank Duursma for his time and knowledge.
So, here we go!
I started by asking Duursma to introduce himself, and to tell us what MasterCard has been up to in 2016. He spoke about how MasterCard is a technology company rather than the ‘credit card’ company people might perceive them to be. We spoke of the growth in contactless payments in Australia, especially compared to the slow pace of change in the US.
Naturally, Duursma also talked about safety and security, two major trends, especially given the plethora of website hack attacks we keep hearing about.
I asked Duursma about the MasterCard and Samsung announcement at CES 2016 about fridges which can be set to order the staples you rely upon home delivered, and when we might see such a development in Australia.
Duursma demonstrated the "selfie pay" system that MasterCard has developed and which was successfully tested by the Dutch.
He also shared the success of the ’Girls4Tech’ program in Australia thus far and spoek about when we’d see more of the program unfolding in Australia.
Duursma then told us of other global and local trends we should be aware of, spoke of MasterCard’s existing work around working with smartphone payment systems from Apple, Samsung and Google, discussed which country was the most advanced in the contactless payments space and gazed into the crystal ball of what the future might hold.
He then shared the best piece of advice he had ever received to help him get where he is today, and shared his final video interview messages for iTWire viewers and readers, and for MasterCard’s current and future customers.
So, a fascinating look into the reality of contactless payments today, where we’re headed in the future with payments set to go natively digital, and how the technology is rapidly evolving, with so many payments we make everyday contactless already!