Queueing: Forever a UK Favourite Pastime?
This week, having experienced once again the frustration of trying to pay for lunch in the supermarket, I was fascinated to read the release today from The UK Payments Council. The scenario goes something like this. 4 staffed checkouts and 6 self service checkouts are available. You choose the one with the shortest queue (no surprise there) or maybe you take a bet that although the queue for the self service checkouts is longer, actually it's moving quicker. Either way - you're guaranteed to select the wrong one aren't you?! Not forgetting that when you finally get to the self service checkout, the barcode doesn't scan and you need assistance - at which point a self service checkout rapidly transforms itself back into a staffed checkout and delays result. We've all been there and done that. Well, today's news from the UK Payments Council is that the typical British adult can stand queuing for 10 minutes and 42 seconds before their patience starts to fray. There - you guessed that didn't you?! Actually, that's quite a chunk out of most peoples' lunchtimes so my guess is that the fuses of many will be much shorter. Anyway, that's the result of the survey. It's not only in supermarkets that fuses start to blow - the release refers to trains and planes too. Online payments are cited as one of ways of alleviating the need to queue and I'd suggest that you well have figured out where I'm heading with this post by now. I'll whisper it: mobile payments and mobile ticketing. They have a part to play here. The other UK news affecting this topic also came out this week. The millionth UK contactless transaction has been made! In 2010. OK OK I know that's a fraction of all types of transactions, but hey - we're getting there and the number of payment terminals has exceeded 40,000. Concealed near the foot of the release though was this statement: "Barclaycard also intends to make payments by mobile phone available to the mass market by 2012." So - back to my lunchtime sandwich queue. Or maybe my train ticket. Quick payment by mobile phone keeps everyone happy - as long as there no technical hiccups mind you:
Shorter queues - the supermarket or train company is happy & so is the customer
Less cash to carry - the supermarket or train company is happy & so is the customer
Reduced amount of cash to count and risk of fraud/theft - the supermarket or train company is happy
My lunch or ticket arrives faster - I'm happy.
So everyone's a winner. Or we will be in 2012.