Unattended payment systems bring in efficiency by significantly reducing wait time. They could be just the right solution for smart cities
Automation and intelligence are being incorporated in almost any business sector today. This integration has resulted in more effective business practices, and presents a new and improved level of productivity, transparency and reliability. The business of payments in India has been a witness to digital transformation; consumers were obligated to look beyond paper money to plastic cards, pre-paid instruments like e-wallets, smartcards, etc. On understanding the landscape of payment trends, businesses and customers are equally looking out for simple, quick and economical manners of transacting. It is certain that PoS and digital wallets are here to stay, however introducing mobility within payments has plenty of scope and possibilities that are beyond these existing solutions. Unattended payment solutions or self-service solutions are known to add more flexibility and can open new avenues and revenue streams for existing businesses.
Digital payments have introduced transparency and automation across businesses, but Indians have experienced very little in terms of self-check-out kiosks, ticket vending machines, vending machines, etc. Western markets have adapted to self-service payments across businesses like transport, fuel, retail, hospitality and even car parks since years. According to Growth Industry Analysts, the US is currently the largest market for intelligent vending machines and the global market is expected to reach approximately 2.7 million unattended terminals by 2020. Additionally, unattended retail is estimated to reach $275 billion globally by 2020 according to a research by ReportsnReports.com.
Un-attended payment terminals and solutions provides for smooth, safe, secure and convenient mode of payments across Kiosks for bill payments, movie tickets, vending machines, etc. and AFC (Automated Fare Collection) solutions for rail tickets, metros, etc. It happens to be one of the best systems for managing parking especially in a country like India, where parking is scarce and there are losses in revenue.
There are very distinct reasons on why such solutions gradually become a choice for many. Not only is it user friendly, it has been known to lower or even eliminate time wasted in long queues due to its queue-busting uniqueness and this also channelizes sales. Similar to PoS, the solution also needs to be compliant with PCI DSS norms and are hence equally safe and secure. Integration with existing loyalty programs and acceptance of cash, cards, wallets and even NFC and contactless payments make it multi-faceted and acceptable by consumers.
Very recently, Delhi Metro made a bold move by deciding to install around 400 unattended terminals across it network which will enable commuters to recharge smart cards and buy tokens by swiping a debit or credit cards themselves. Installing such self-service terminals in this case can be viewed as an optimal and a profitable alternative considering ticketing rush. Our experience with retailers across the world tells us that it has helped draw more customers thus increasing sales without the need to increase staff or offload existing workload on existing staff. The technology used in such systems allows the solution to be managed remotely. The solution has visibly eased operations and challenges associated with payments at large format outlets.
Such solutions can ease out transactions especially in smart City projects across India. Keeping in mind the potential of such solutions, it is only about time that the solution is made more readily available to consumers.
(The author is the Group CEO, OMA Emirates Group)