14 April, 2006
Get ready to tap! No, I am not talking about a dance revival but this concerted effort to stop us using money and keep us using cards, thereby making the banks very rich indeed.
On the one hand, using cards apparently makes us all spend more, but on the other, it also pushes up fraud levels considerably, which we – not the banks – all pay for.However, I have to say I am all in favour of the latest idea, Mastercard’s new Tap & Go, which we describe on pages 12-13. As the name suggests, you simply tap the card (not a number) on a reader and go!It only works with payments of under £10 and seems to me an excellent way of reducing shop assistant fraud, waiting time for customers and, best of all, the need for both shoppers and till staff to sort out small change. And it sounds especially useful for small retail purchases, such as bakery takeaway!The first trial will start in June and will last six months. The system works by means of radio waves, with the user simply tapping the card on a terminal and payment being made in less than a second.Security has yet to be tested – that is the whole point of a trial – but with such a low transaction ceiling, it should not be a major problem worldwide, as it is with the higher-amount debit and credit cards. Still on the retail front, I am delighted to see Greenhalgh’s both revamping and expanding its 42 shops (pg 4). I do hope that, at some stage, Improve, the skills sector council responsible for food training, will consult Greenhalgh’s David Smart, among others, because he cares passionately about bakery training and the results are there to see in his successful business.On other issues, it will come as little surprise to most to see that Warburtons is among those having to put up prices to keep pace with higher energy costs. We have published enough charts in this magazine to show how consumers overseas pay considerably more for their bread. A good product always merits a good price. As far as I am concerned, some supermarkets’ latest EDLP (every day low pricing) policy squeezes suppliers far more than it rewards shoppers.We should let good products stand – on both merit and price!