Note: I am highly aware, as a Brit, that I’ve sold out and used a Z in tokenisation.

As retailers we are still dealing with cash, so any claims of the credit card being a thing of the past are dramatically premature. Whilst we have digital currencies evolving in parallel, we still continue to see innovation and development on top of card scheme infrastructures. This further entrench credit cards in our lives.

The thing to watch, however, is HOW WE USE credit cards.

I’ve struggled to put this concept in to words, but was greatly helped by a recent article on credit card tokenization (N.B. Alas I can’t find said article, I know it was shared by JudoPay on their LinkedIn page).

Briefly, tokenization is way of inputting your credit card details ONCE, through a browser or an App, and enabling a retailer to charge the card in future without needing anything more from you. Yes it can sound a little unnerving, and you are still protected by the card schemes (and hopefully responsible retailers), but this is ultimately the main enabler for t creative customer experiences in physical shops.

Tokenization forms the basis for most stored value account systems, including the award winning experience we created at Harris + Hoole, and has the added benefit of offloading PCI compliance concerns to someone who really knows what they’re doing.

How we WILL use credit cards

I’ve bemoaned the fallacy of mobile POS previously, whereby you’re really just muddying the waters of how you’d expect to move customers through a transaction flow in a shop.

Ultimately, credit card terminals are also a major blocker to the empowerment of customers ordering the way they want to. Even if you remove cash as an accepted payment, you still need to go and swipe, insert or tap a credit card somewhere to pay for goods rendered.

Tokenization, however, presents an opportunity to centralise payments and empowers retailers to deliver NEW customer experiences. Imagine a world where you can walk in to a cafe with friends, grab a free table - and not worry about losing it whilst you order - whip out your phone (with said App), place and pay for your order and have it brought over to you.

From Tokenization to Customer Experience

Whilst cafes and quick service restaurants will likely place incredible value on front of house to help educate customers, their time would be far more valuably spent helping those customers who need it, and letting their regulars just get on with it - no queue building up, no dropping off the back of the till queue, and front of house team members who don’t have to put up with the quirks of a thumping the screen of a creaking E/mPOS system.

The key to designing truly customer centric experiences - especially in hospitality - lies in this ability to integrate payments in a way that is seamless for the customer and reliably secure for the retailer.