Cashless payment systems are spreading. Near Field Communications (NFC) chips are starting to invade more and more cell phones. Google has already launched a mobile wallet application, and others are poised to follow suit.
That is not to say that the cashless revolution will happen smoothly. Certain obstacles preventing the widespread use of cashless solutions still require resolution. Google Wallet has stumbled a bit out of the blocks with security issues. The major cell phone companies, in an effort to create their own mobile wallet system, may or may not have actively blocked Google Wallet from working on their devices. And, perhaps most importantly, people still don’t trust the new technology to keep their sensitive information safe. Cashless may be the way of the future, but right now it needs a good push to get things moving.
That push may come in the form of the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. The London Olympics will be the first Games to feature cashless (or “contactless,” as they say across the pond) payment options at all terminals across each Olympic venue. McDonald’s specifically says it will offer “wave and pay” options in its new restaurant in the Olympic Park in East London. McDonald’s says the new restaurant will be its largest in the world.
Similarly, transportation, including 8,000 busses and 2,000 taxis, will also feature cashless payment options. Away from the Olympic sites, retail chains, supermarkets, and restaurants will offer cashless options as well. At any cashless terminal, customers can pay with either a card or compatible smartphone.
The cashless initiative is being pushed forward most fervently by Visa, which was the first sponsor to sign up for the 2012 Games. Visa has released an advertisement featuring Usain Bolt to showcase the speed and ease of cashless payments.