A lot has been said about Australia becoming increasingly cashless as a nation.
A recent report by Visa revealed Sydney and Canberra as cities that are among the most advanced in the world when it comes to adopting digital payments. Numbers from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also showed that cash payments had dropped from nearly 70 per cent to less than 40 per cent in the last nine years.
In catering to consumer convenience and the need for businesses to collect data, digital payment methods have become increasingly sophisticated, and terms like ‘tap-n-go’ and ‘mobile wallets’ are becoming commonplace.
With the cashless movement taking flight Down Under, businesses are following suit in offering customers a myriad of ways to pay without ever taking out their wallets.
Aussie-based Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee Roasters (or P&R) took this one step further when they opened their café in Brisbane – and declared the location would be free of cash.
Pablo & Rusty’s are unlike many coffee businesses in that their entire operations – from their offices, to the roastery and their cafés – are run like a tech company. Since implementing Lightspeed throughout their business a few years ago, they’ve also seen the value of integrating other kinds of payments into their point of sale.
In the fast paced atmosphere of their café, the speed of electronic payments – credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, payment apps – is a crucial factor. So when it came time to open their Brisbane shop, the decision was made to let the tech take over the paper.
Solving the cash problem with efficiency in mind
This move to a cashless business is one that people (including us) have been predicting for years would be happening. It may not have happened on a wide scale just yet but that’s not because the technology doesn’t exist – in fact, there’s been a glut of solutions in the last few years that have proven to be capable and affordable even for the smallest of businesses.
But the hardware needed to accept these payments is generally a series of compromises.
You want something small and portable for tableside payments, but it only works for cards with EMV (Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®) chips. You want to accept contactless payments, but it only accepts NFC-capable Visas and Mastercards and not Apple Pay. This back and forth can go on for quite awhile before you finally settle on a viable solution that works for your business and doesn’t disrupt the seamless service your customers are used to.
This was one of the challenges facing Pablo & Rusty’s as they prepared to open (and are now operating) their cashless venue.
The payment system they’d been using at the time had hardware that was much too bulky for servers to carry around. But it was connected to their bank account, and they quite like their bank – especially the part where they received same day settlement of all their non-cash transactions. In today’s digital world, that’s nearly as good as cash – money you receive today that is available that night.
Still, Chris Tate, Pablo & Rusty’s General Manager / Retail, saw room for improvement, especially for customers in the Sydney CBD branch who come to sit down for a meal.
“Having waitstaff bring the bill to a customer, then come back to the table to pick up the bill and the credit card, then go back to the POS to process the payment, then go back to the table to deliver the receipt is a complicated dance with the potential to slow down everything else in its wake.”
To avoid this ripple effect, they ask customers to just head up to the counter to pay their bill, but this comes with its own set of issues – it tends to create a human bottleneck around the register, and also delivers a suboptimal experience for customers.
There’s no denying the success of their Brisbane outlet. Going cashless just hasn’t impacted their business negatively, and Tate quickly eyed the Sydney café as the next venue to refuse paper money. It didn’t take long to settle on a solution: Mint Payments.
Enhancing the payment – and customer – experience
Going with Mint Payments was a no brainer for Pablo & Rusty’s. The Mint mPOS can be directly integration with their Lightspeed point of sale, and the card reader device itself is small enough to fit in anyone’s pocket.
It connects directly to smartphones and tablets through Bluetooth, so there are no cables or awkward dongles plugging in. It accepts both EMV (Chip and Pin) and NFC (contactless) payments – including Visa’s PayWave, MasterCard’s PayPass, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. Plus, they offer next-business-day settlement for any Australian bank, which meant that P&R got to keep doing business as usual.
Most importantly for Tate, though, is the promise of an enhanced customer experience.
Before, the Sydney staff brought the bill to the table, and from there it’s up to the customers to manage the payment process by manoeuvring through the bustling café to get to the register. Now, the staff can stick around for an extra minute and process the payment right at the customer’s tables.
It doesn’t just improve the customers’ interaction with the store, Tate’s also noted how it benefits his employees too.
“It takes away the overall confusion – new customers of Pablo & Rusty’s, they might not know where they’re supposed to pay.”
“Many people receive their cheque, throw their credit card on the table and wait for someone to come pick it up and process the payment. They might wait for several minutes before flagging someone down to take their card, only to be told they have to head up to the counter and pay themselves. This doesn’t always go over well, and the front-of-house staff are the ones who deal with that frustration,” said Tate.
“Now, the final interaction can just be quick and pleasant, an extension of everything else that came before,” he said.
Keeping up with the times by going cashless
Australian consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to payments today, and there’s truth in that offering your customers the convenience they’ve come to expect means a better overall experience. However, the idea of implementing digital payment systems can be daunting for many small business that are still accepting only cash.
The hesitation often comes down to a few things – what payment systems should you install in order to stay competitive? Will the fees involved pay off instead of crippling your business? How can you and your accountant maintain visibility over a myriad of payment options offered in your venue(s), and how much disruption will all this cause your business?
In choosing what payment types to offer, accepting electronic credit and debit cards should be a basic. According to the Australian government, there’s been a 42 per cent growth in Paywave and other tap-and-go accounts and 74 per cent of all MasterCard in-store transactions are now contactless.
Service fees and transaction costs may vary depending on the bank or card provider you’re going with, but laws implemented in 2016 have made it so that the fees merchants are charged are relatively small, and can be passed on to your customers. As a guide:
- accepting a Visa or MasterCard debit card may cost a business around 0.50 per cent of the transaction value (or 50 cents for every $100 transaction).
- accepting credit cards typically cost merchants up to 1–1.5 per cent per transaction for Visa and MasterCard, and 2–3 per cent for American Express cards.
Keeping an eye on your business’s finances can be made easy if you integrate the payment platforms you use a unified POS and Payments platform.
You’ll probably have to do some research into what point of sale system allows integration with the digital payment platforms you want to use. Realistically, it could take some time to set up on your premises, but with cash-only businesses being targeted by the government of late in a crackdown on the cash economy, it could soon become mandatory for all hospitality businesses to accept electronic payments.
If and when that time comes, wouldn’t you rather have been prepared?
Pablo & Rusty’s Brisbane café is proof that running a cashless business is not only possible, but also preferable. If you think a similar setup could work for your business, there’s no time like the present to get started.