Thought Leadership & Community


Sweden is cashless? 5 trends driving digital payments (we’re seeing in Australia).

By Anthill Magazine

Welcome, restaurant and cafe owners, to the world of digital payments. There are a million and one different ways your customers can pay for your food and beverages these days. Do you miss the good old days of cash only? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, data tells us those days are gone.

Sweden has been in the news recently as the first country to go (almost) completely cashless. Last year, according to a national survey, only 13 percent of Swedes remembered using cash for a recent purchase, and in Stockholm, most people couldn’t even remember the last time they had coins in their pocket.

Think about it. How often do you pay for something with cash?

Australia is not 100 percent there yet, but digital payments have fast become a way of life here too. According to Roy Morgan, 72 percent of Aussies are already using at least one form of digital payment, with that number predicted to rise as we move towards a cashless and cardless society. At Kounta, we’ve seen cash as a percentage of all payments decrease by nine percent over the last 12 months alone.

But this is a good thing. There are heaps of good reasons to say goodbye to cash and embrace digital payments. Let’s take a look at some of the big trends around digital payments impacting the hospitality sector at the moment.

1. Going completely cashless

There are a lot of benefits to this. It’s easier to reconcile your takings to your accounting platforms, there’s no margin for error, it’s faster to serve customers and staff aren’t tempted to steal from you. The prevalence of contactless payments and digital wallets make this easier to achieve than you may think, and there’s a swell of businesses jumping on-board.

Redfern-based nouveau-institution RaRa Ramen, which serves up top secret ramen recipes from actual ramen masters, went cashless earlier this year and has never looked back. They found that the check-out process was more efficient and accurate, and allowed staff to spend more time providing a great customer experience.

2. Hardware is disappearing, including eftpos terminals

If you see an old cash register on the counter these days it’s usually ornamental. More often you’ll see an iPad or tablet with a receipt printer and cash drawer hidden away somewhere. This is because many restaurants and cafes are using cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) services to run their businesses. According to a recent study by Amazon Web Services, 42 percent of retail trade businesses are running in the cloud.

That’s no surprise, but what might surprise you is that the humble eftpos terminal may also soon be redundant. Payments will soon be built directly into the POS app, so you’ll either tap an iPad POS with your card or phone to pay, or even tap phone to phone, eliminating the need for an eftpos machine. Would you even need a cash drawer then?

3. Personalisation and facial recognition

This is closer than you think. Soon, the POS will recognise returning customers and make recommendations and offer rewards based on what they have ordered before. This personalised customer experience is more important than ever in the face of food delivery apps, which have exploded in popularity because of their ease of use. While these apps may help you access a wider market, they don’t help you build relationships with your customers. They interface with the customer, rather than you. This is why the personalisation trend is so important – the experience a customer has when in your venue or dealing with you directly has to be high quality, and personal.

This personalised customer experience is more important than ever in the face of food delivery apps, which have exploded in popularity because of their ease of use. While these apps may help you access a wider market, they don’t help you build relationships with your customers.

4. Self-service and pay-at-table

This is a trend we’re seeing everywhere. At large fast-food restaurants it tends to be at a kiosk, but in a restaurant it is usually at the table, either on the customer’s phone or using a tablet dedicated to that table. There are also apps that allow customers to tap and download a digital menu on their phone. They can then order, split bills and pay with their phone, so the experience of having to ask for a menu or the bill is redundant. All that’s needed is a food runner or other delivery mechanism for the meal.

5. Cryptocurrency is real

Cryptocurrency isn’t going anywhere, and the number of people using this form of payment will only increase. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to accept, and can actually help you get bums on seats. For example, Liven is a digital dining currency and app that allows customers to pay with cryptocurrency with one tap at the POS. Liven will then give the customer back between 10 and 30 percent of their total spend in Liven Coin to spend again, encouraging them to return.

Gelato Messina accepts Liven at 12 stores across Sydney and Melbourne and offers customers 10 percent Liven Coin back on everything they buy in store using the app. Did someone say free Messina?!

What all these things really come down to are ease of access and use. Today’s consumers are looking for convenient and flexible payment methods that give them a seamless and personal experience. And you don’t want to say no to them.

Businesses on the other hand need ways to deliver this without adding more complication. The answer is in integrations, which can connect any number of different services to your POS and automatically reconcile with takings, accounting and so on. We may not be as far down the line as Sweden, but we’re a nation of early adopters of technology. Digital payments are already embedded in the fabric of our lives, and are here to stay.

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