Worldpay’s James Frost on contactless, wearables and the future of payments (Interview)

We sat down with James Frost, chief marketing officer of Worldpay, one of the largest payment processors in the UK. On the agenda was the rise of contactless payments, the sustainability of wearables and whether virtual currency will ever be universally accepted.

The way we pay for things is changing. What do you think is the biggest payment innovation out there at the moment?

Well I think contactless in particular is really popular at the moment. It’s funny because contactless has been around for the past eight years but the pace of growth in the last twelve months has been staggering.

In November we finally reached the £1bn mark for contactless transactions processed, but we hit the £2bn mark in March, so it took eight years to get to £1bn but it took only five months to get to £2bn.

You see things like Apple Pay just play into that factor. The ubiquity of contactless payments is just really taking off now and with the contactless spending limit set to rise to £30, you can only see things improving for contactless.

Wearables are a very popular way of paying for items, with the acceptance of Apple Pay and other commercial software. Do you think wearables are a fad, or do you see a contactless future?

I think whether it’s a phone or a watch people are finding contactless payments hugely convenient. Will it be for everybody? The answer is obviously no but I think that for some people it will become their primary way of paying for things.

Joining wearables as an innovative way of paying for things is virtual currency. What is Worldpay’s relationship with cryptocurrency; do you have any plans to integrate bitcoin into your payment platforms?

In terms of cryptocurrency, I think it will be quite interesting to see what the future holds. Many people are very interested in the underlying technology of cryptocurrency, including distributive ledgers.

I think it will be sometime before the world figures out the best application for cryptocurrencies. We’ve done some proof-of-concept work to show that we can work with virtual currencies, but in pragmatic terms there isn’t a huge demand out there from merchants to process cryptocurrencies at the moment.

2015 is obviously a huge year for Worldpay in terms of payment growth, but could you paint me a picture of what the future looks like for Worldpay?

In terms of current projects, we think that our ‘My Business Dashboard’ is just the start of a journey to help small business owners get more insight into their firm and their payment structure. We intend to continue to find more payment solutions for our small business customers.

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