Abrantix UK, one year on. A personal view by our Head of UK, Paul Butterworth
Well that went quickly, it's been a whole year since I joined Abrantix and we launched the Abrantix UK subsidiary, driving payment innovation, and creating the Abrantix SoftPos innovation lab. As Abrantix UK turns one, Abrantix CH is delighted to be celebrating its 20th year anniversary, two decades of market leading payment solutions design and development.
It’s great to be here, driving forward payment innovation. But, what a strange year it's been. I spent over 10 months in my home office before I could to travel to meet my colleagues in Switzerland, and I still haven't met a customer face to face yet! But that doesn’t mean things have been standing still, it's been a busy 12 months.
So what's been going on, well before I get into that, let me set the scene. I've been connected to contactless and NFC payments since the very early days, it's been almost 15 years now. I was part of the team of innovators that brought the first contactless readers to market and helped develop and deploy the first NFC mobile wallets.
But, in reality it’s taken a global pandemic to give contactless payments and NFC wallets the kick they needed to become an essential part of everyone's life. I rarely take my physical wallet out with me anymore, I can pay with my Apple Pay wallet on my phone pretty much everywhere I go. It's taken a while, but eventually, my mother actually understands what I do, and sees why you might want to do something as ludicrous as pay with your phone; and now she is out tapping everywhere she goes!
The other thing that’s changed with contactless is that lots of small retailers, my local village shop for example, are now actively encouraging contactless payments. Pre-pandemic, many small stores preferred cash and insisted on a minimum £5 transaction value for card based transactions, that's all changed, and I believe the change is permanent, The other difference is in the contactless limits, in the UK they have already increased from £30 to £45 pounds and in October, another rise to a £100 limit is planned. In most of the EU, the contactless limit has doubled from €25 to €50 , meaning you can pay with contactless for most incidental purchases. Also, if you are paying with a mobile wallet, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay etc, the limit is much higher, it will cover every normal transaction.
But how does this relate to Abrantix, as we aren't a wallet company. SoftPos is what interests me most, turning a standard mobile phone into a contactless payments terminal. Abrantix has a tremendous amount of knowledge in payment terminal development, with over 300,000 terminals globally relying on our payment applications. Therefore it is a natural migration for us to start to play a big role in SoftPos. I am delighted that we are able to establish Abrantix as a leading SoftPos Technology provider, and we are already busy helping major financial services organisations with SoftPos solutions helping them prepare for the contactless future.
All these changes, with increased contactless awareness and use and especially the increase in contactless limits really gives SoftPos a boost. And it's sure been a busy year in the Softpos world, with new eagerly anticipated specifications expected soon. These new specs from PCI will deliver the capability everyone wants, contactless and PIN on a phone, deployable at scale, not just for controlled trials. Therefore we have joined the Mobile Task Force at PCI to help design this new technology and drive those standards forward.
With the world returning to some kind of normal, I think it's going to be an exciting year, and I look forward to pushing the SoftPos market forward and tapping my way through it.