by Editorial Team
June 24, 2019

The future is cashless – this is what our Wirecard experts regularly report on this blog. But as we also find other perspectives exciting, we have asked various experts with different backgrounds for their insights, experiences and opinions about cashless as part of our Cashless Think Tank” interview series (click here to read all parts published so far). 

Today we continue with Dennis Phúc McNulty. He likes to call himself “Lord of the Payments” and has had an exciting career in payment over the past 15 years, including positions with such renowned employers as Wells Fargo, First Data, HelloFresh or Amazon. He currently works for the Mercari selling app and as CFO for a wine mail order company in Japan.

Payment expert Dennis Phúc McNulty

Payment expert Dennis Phúc McNulty

Dennis, from your perspective, what are the most important advantages of cashless payment?

Convenience. There is nothing worse than the experience when you had a great meal with your friends, you ask for the check, and the store owner drops the infamous line: “We are cash only …” Then begins the quest to find the nearest ATM, possibly having to pay an ATM fee, get just enough cash not to have much leftover, and to top it all off … receiving change that will at some point be lost forever in the bottomless abyss of a purse or behind a sofa cushion.

Looking at the merchant’s point of view, aside from fees, how many more customers will be gained by going cashless? I can say for myself that I avoid cash-only places like the plague and I know I’m not alone. Combining convenience for customers and more sales for merchants: it’s a win-win situation!

What are the most important trends that are helping cashless to become more prevalent worldwide?

Mobile, mobile, and … mobile! Mobile devices are the one thing people can no longer live without. Forgot your wallet? No problem, you have your mobile phone. Forgot your mobile at home? RED ALERT! On top of mobile, there is one factor I think is quite important and that is what payment options you can link to your mobile device.

For example, in Japan, mobile payments only allow you to pay through credit cards stored on your mobile device. And that is only if your credit card is accepted. On the other hand, many European countries make mobile payments easier by allowing bank transfers, credit or debit cards, and local payment methods so that customers can easily set up mobile payments on their phones.

“In 2030, the movement of money will be so seamless that even moving to different countries will not include the old fashion opening a local account” – payment expert Dennis Phúc McNulty on the #WirecardBlog #CashlessThinkTank

Another trend that is helping with cashless is consolidation. For example, in London, the Oyster card rid the city of long queue lines to get this flat object referred to as a … paper-ticket. Many years after the launch of this, the Oyster card readers were changed to accept contactless cards which included mobile cards. Although queues to charge Oyster cards are on average not too bad, why have two cards when you can just charge everything on your mobile phone!

One’s commute can now include a tube journey from Canary Wharf to Angel, Coconut Power Oatmeal from Pret-a-Manger, and your regular iced cold brew from Hipster Coffee Store X, all with your mobile phone! In some Asian countries like Japan, there are around 30 different ways to pay, so consolidation will play a key role in removing customer confusion from payment type overload and moving more towards cashless.

How do you think cashless payments will be made in 2030?

Of course seamless is the key word here. Whether it be as invisible as AmazonGo stores or as simple as verbally telling Alexa to stock up on toilet paper, payments in the future will happen without having to manually type your card number. One trend that I predict is that we start getting away from traditional cards and start moving more towards easily connecting our bank accounts. There are many mobile payments these days like ApplePay, WeChat Pay, and not to mention the thousands of mobile payments that are bubbling up in Japan.

However, whether I am paying via QR code or throwing a virtual Pokemon ball, the underlying payment is still mostly reliant on costly and clunky credit cards. In the next 10 years, I see this underlying credit card infrastructure moving more towards a seamless connection to banks. After all, your cash is virtually sitting within your bank, so becoming cashless needs to involve your cash!

Speaking of banks, what will be an interesting trend is borderless virtual banks. People are moving around much more than they did in the past and the last thing you want to be worried about is currency and your payments being accepted. In 2030, I think the movement of money will be so seamless that even crossing boarders or moving to different countries will not include the old fashion opening an account at your local branch. We will have a bank account, multiple currencies, doesn’t matter the country of origin, and I know that I will always be able to use my cash. For some countries, this will be more a far distant future than near future, but in the EU, there are many strides happening now to make this a reality.

Many thanks for the interview!