Amazon Accused In Birkenstock Misspelling Advert Row

German sandal maker Birkenstock has successfully brought an injunction against Amazon to prevent internet shoppers from being directed to the online marketplace with anything other than the correct spelling of the sandal brand name.


The reported motivation for the legal move by Birkenstock is to prevent unsuspecting shoppers from buying low-quality counterfeits through Amazon that would erode Birkenstock’s reputation.

The sandal company argued in a district court in Dusseldorf that Amazon booked variations of “Birkenstock” as keywords through Google AdWords, thereby potentially contributing to customers ending up with counterfeit versions of the sandals as a result of typing e.g. “Brikenstock”, “Birkenstok”, “Bierkenstock” or other variations into their Google searches for the product.


This move by Birkenstock appears to be part of an ongoing dispute with Amazon. A year ago, Birkenstock stopped dealing with Amazon in the United States, and has now said that it will end the sale of its products through Amazon in Europe after Amazon “failed to proactively prevent” the sale of counterfeit Birkenstock goods.

Misspelling Adverts Commonplace

One interesting aspect of this case is the fact that if the court’s final ruling (it’s still at a preliminary stage) goes in favour of the Birkenstock, this could have implications for all companies using the common practice of targeting PPC adverts at misspellings of brand / product names.

For example, in one widely publicised example from back in April 2013, confectionary brand Snickers based an online advertising campaign around misspellings of its brand name. The company worked with a London agency to build a list of the top 500 search terms, and by using an algorithm were able to generate a list of 25,381 different misspellings. The three-day campaign generated 558,589 ad impressions on those misspellings, and served as an example for what has now become a very widely used PPC tactic.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This case raises some interesting issues for online business advertising. Obviously, businesses would like to protect themselves from the actions of counterfeiters and those trying to circumvent trademark law and pass off fake goods as popular brands. In this case, however, some commentators have pointed out that Amazon’s role does not appear to be a parallel form of digital deception, and that the mainstream practice of targeting ads to misspelled search terms can actually help shoppers find what they’re looking for more easily.

Also, some commentators have made the point that counterfeit products sold on Amazon are unlikely to be using misspellings in their online or physical branding, but are more likely to simply be superficially exact copies that are listed as the real thing in Amazon’s network of third-party sellers. If, in this scenario, Amazon used misspellings to advertise Birkenstocks to shoppers, and those shoppers bought counterfeit products as a result, the problem is would be more likely to be Amazon’s supply-chain structure than its search tactics.

If the German court’s final ruling goes in favour of Birkenstock, it could have much wider effects for online advertisers, and may not be to the benefit of web users.

Miscarriage Risk From Wi-Fi And Smartphones

A U.S. study has found a link between high levels of magnetic field (MF) non-ionizing radiation such as that emitted by Mobile phones and Wi-Fi transmitters, and a 2.72x higher risk of miscarriage.

What Is MF Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation?

Radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation, and this can be categorized as either ionizing (e.g., x-rays, radon, and cosmic rays) or non-ionizing (e.g. radiofrequency and extremely low frequency, or power frequency). The energy of electromagnetic radiation is determined by its frequency. Ionizing radiation is high frequency, and high energy, whereas non-ionizing radiation is low frequency and low energy.

Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation / MF radiation is widespread, and something that we are all exposed to from traditional sources that generate low frequency MFs / emit radio-frequency MF radiation e.g. power lines, and appliances, and from emerging sources that generate higher frequency MFs e.g. wireless networks, smart meter networks, mobile phone masts, and wireless devices such as smartphones. Even household appliances such as fridges and freezers emit MF radiation.

We are now generally exposed to more MF radiation than ever because we use more MF generating equipment / devices as part of modern life.

The Study Results

The results of the San Francisco-based study involving 913 pregnant women found that those women exposed to high levels of MF non-ionizing radiation had a 2.72x higher risk of miscarriage than those exposed to low MF levels.

The authors of the study say that these findings add to the evidence of at least 7 previous studies that MF non-ionizing radiation could have adverse biological impacts on human health.

The facts that this study showed an almost three-fold increased risk of miscarriage if a pregnant woman was exposed to higher MF levels, that the association was independent of any specific MF exposure sources or locations, and that a 2.5mG threshold level for health effects may have been discovered make the results appear significant, and have got the attention of the media.

Cancer Link Too

Another recent (multi-year) survey by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found an increased risk of cancer associated with MF non-ionizing radiation exposure. In this case, it found that the cancer risk from MF radiation exposure in experimental animals matched the cancer cell types that had been reported in previous epidemiologic studies in human populations.

The UK National Cancer Institute acknowledges online that exposure to ionizing radiation, such as from x-rays, is known to increase the risk of cancer, but that there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The modern workplace, which could be a company / organisation office, an office at home, or a vehicle, is likely to have MF emitting equipment that is in regular or constant use. Add to this the amount of MF non-ionizing radiation exposure we receive when we go home, use or phones, go into shops and other buildings, or pass near e.g. phone masks, and it is easy to see why any evidence of negative effects on health is causing concern. Since pregnant women appear to be particularly at risk, it may be necessary for companies to at least make sure that any pregnant employees are informed of the existence of those kinds of risks on the premises, and of the potential danger according to prominent studies.

It is important to remember, however, that even though the results of this study are worrying, MF non-ionizing radiation is very difficult to avoid (particularly in built-up areas), that there is no consistent evidence of certain health risks, and that for many studies it is difficult to measure exactly how much MF radiation each individual research subject is exposed to. It is likely, therefore, that the results of this study will point the way for more research in future.

Changing Faces With AR and AI

The combination of Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has led to a cosmetics chain enabling customers to experiment with virtual make-up, and the animation of single still images into photos with moving facial expressions.

Virtual Cosmetics App

Back in March, the new ‘Virtual Artist’ app was first unveiled to the tech world. The app is now being used by French cosmetics / beauty brand Sephora to engage customers and allow them to try out and experiment quickly and easily with the company’s beauty products without needing to physically apply any of the actual products.

Photo Overlaid With AR Make-Up

Sephora’s ‘Virtual Artist’ app, which is used in some of their stores on iPads (available to customers as a smart-phone version) allows customers to try-on virtual make-up. The app, which was developed in partnership with AR company ModiFace, scans a photo of the user’s face, maps where the lips and eyes are, and lets users try on different looks.

The app gives users virtual tutorials that use AI and AR to show users (using a photo of their own face) how to contour, apply highlighter, and create winged eyeliner.

The app currently allows users to experiment with lip colours, eyeshadows, and false lash styles, and to add the products they like to an online shopping basket.

Not The Only One

Sephora’s proprietary ‘Virtual Artist’ app is actually joining the tech beauty gadget market a little late, as it follows in the footsteps of other similar ideas such as the HiMirror Plus, which scan users’ faces and recommends products and skin regimens.

Bringing Still Photos To Life

Another recent innovation to hit the news is a face mapping, AR and AI combined system that has been developed by a joint team from Tel Aviv University and Facebook.

The system enables a single still photo of a person / emoji character / painting of a person’s face to be animated with moving facial expressions.

How It Works

To enable the animation to work, the subjects submit a single still image of their face, plus, they film themselves pulling a variety of faces. Face mapping of the still photo as a guide, and the expressions, combined with a ‘driving video’ of another face, and the software’s ability to fill in the invisible gaps in the picture e.g. the inside of a subject’s mouth, enables moving facial expressions to be overlaid (using AR), thus producing an eerily realistic image with changing facial expressions and emotions.


Since the system was developed in conjunction with Facebook, tech commentators have speculated the first use of the system will be as part of a fun craze to help engagement with the Facebook platform.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is not difficult to see how, as with the Sephora example, a system that encourages and enables customers to engage with, try out, and willingly widen their knowledge of a product range with minimum risk and hassle could be useful and relevant to many kinds of businesses in different markets e.g. beauty, interior design, furnishings / furniture, and other self / lifestyle / home and garden markets. The ability to enable customers (B2B and domestic) to visually experience and explore products and services like never before offers an exciting opportunity for businesses.

The ability to animate still images in a realistic and engaging way could also feed into multiple industries e.g. marketing / advertising / display / promotions, photography / graphics, greetings and gifts and many more.

The leverage gained from the synergies of combined new technologies could provide exciting business opportunities and areas to develop competitive advantages that are likely to reduce in cost over time.

Cash From Cloud Bigger Than Expected

A Gartner report shows evidence that revenues from the public cloud look likely to grow by 18.5% this year, and could top $260 Billion.

Public Cloud

The ‘public cloud’ refers to the service whereby companies / individuals can access virtual machines (VMs), applications or storage over the Internet on a pay-per-usage or free basis.

Technical commentators have noted that the market for cloud services is growing much faster than most other IT markets today, with much of the growth coming at the expense of more traditional, non-cloud offerings.

Big Growth Areas – SaaS and IaaS

The Gartner report shows that the big revenue growth areas this year are Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

The greater than predicted rise in SaaS revenue for last year ($48.2 billion) is a key driver for the healthy forecast in public cloud revenue for this year, where software revenues are expected to reach $58.6 billion by the end of the year.
IaaS has also seen bigger than expected revenue growth, and Gartner predicts end of year revenues of $34.7 billion, which would be a massive 36.6% increase on last years’ end-of-year figures. Many technical commentators believe that IaaS is likely to be the fastest growing area of cloud computing over the next 5 years.

Amazon is the leader in the IaaS market with 44.2 % of the market, and has a much larger share than its closest rival Microsoft. Google has also gained momentum in the IaaS market with Azure.

PaaS Too

Even though Platform as a Service (PaaS) was one of the least profitable areas of the cloud last year, revenues for these services are forecast to rise significantly by 2020, and there are expectations of an increase to $20.8 billion this year (compared to $9 billion last year).

PaaS refers to the provision of a platform and environment that allows developers to build applications and services over the internet. The PaaS services are hosted in the cloud and can be accessed by their users via their web browser, thus providing ease and convenience to a hitherto more complicated and costly area of computing.

What Does This Mean For Your Businesses?

The general trend over the last year or so has been that the hybrid cloud has been the preferred enterprise strategy, while public cloud adoption has been growing, and private cloud adoption has flattened-out.

The growth in public cloud services, as shown by the Gartner report, is something that is happening worldwide, and it is being driven by digital business initiatives, data centre consolidations and application migrations to the cloud.

Now that businesses are less fearful of the early perceived risks of a move to the cloud e.g. security concerns, and are starting to realise the key benefits that cloud services offer (flexibility / adaptability, reduced costs – no need to purchase / upgrade in-house hardware or employ the expertise to manage it, security and reduced risk – including backup and recovery), it is not surprising to see big growth in its uptake by all kinds of businesses.

Embarrassing iPhone Face Recognition Blunder Explained

Apple’s on-stage demo of the new iPhone X in front of the world’s media last Tuesday suffered an unexpected glitch as its new face recognition feature didn’t work, and now Apple is offering an explanation of what went wrong.

Not Recognised

The nearly two-hour on-stage demo of the new phone, by Craig Mr Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering at the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters, failed to hit the right note as it was overshadowed by the failure of the new handset to recognise his face as a means of authentication.

Others Moving The Handset

Statements by Apple since the incident have placed the blame on the fact that the phone’s authentication system tried to recognise the face of those moving the phone into position, ready for the presentation. These attempts, therefore, counted as two unsuccessful authentication attempts because the faces were not those of Craig Federighi.

Unfortunately for Mr Federighi, the phone, for reasons of security, is designed to only accept 2 unsuccessful authentication attempts using the facial recognition feature, before the feature is disabled and the user has to go to the trouble of manually typing in a passcode.


The awful irony of the presentation was that ‘Touch ID’, which was being replaced with the 10th anniversary iPhone X, would have allowed five failed attempts before seeking a passcode.

What made things seem worse was the fact that this new iPhone feature had been developed after Apple reportedly gathered a billion images to ‘train’ the feature to recognise broad geographic and ethnic data sets, and that Apple had earlier described Face ID as being “effortless” to use, and even more accurate than its fingerprint-based Touch ID system.

Apple has also said that the 3D front-facing camera has been designed to learn what users look like and is only inaccurate one in 1 million times.

Also For Payment and Emojis

As well as providing authentication to unlock the phone, The Face ID feature has also been designed to authenticate Apple Pay and create the customisable animated emoji.


Fortunately for Mr Federighi, he had a spare phone standing by so that he could at least continue the presentation.


Prior to Apple’s attempt to explain what went wrong with the feature, different theories had been offered online as to what may have caused the problem, including the idea that Mr Federighi’s wiping of the stage make-up on his face before this second attempt may have interfered with the system.


Some commentators have expressed concerns about how the use of Face ID could affect the privacy and security of users, and that the technology may not be entirely effective where users need to keep their face partially covered e.g. for religious / cultural or work reasons.

The largest concern for many people, however, has been the substantial $999 price tag for the phone ($999 for the 64GB version and £1,149 for 256GB).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Having an up to date phone that can cope with the demands of doing business on the move are the main concerns for many businesses, and having a time-saving, new security feature such as Face ID would be a bonus. For many business people, however, the high price of the phone, and the loss of trust in its Face ID abilities already (remember that Face ID also authorises Apple Pay as well as the phone itself) have meant that they may stick with their existing phone for the time being.

For Apple, which is not doing as well as it would like in large markets such as China, the public Face ID failure, which may well have been legitimately caused by features designed to protect the security of users, could prove to be costly. It may also have done nothing to boost business confidence in the kinds of biometric security measures that are being introduced to so many business services e.g. banking.

This story also helps to illustrate the delicate balance between price, value, and perceived benefits in products and services. Even though the sophisticated AI / biometric technology in Face ID is really quite spectacular, if a product has no real perceived benefits compared to existing products / versions, customers may not see the value that they will gain by paying the high price.

Kaspersky Rolls Out Free Antivirus Software Worldwide

Antivirus software company Kaspersky is starting a free global rollout of the bare essentials of its famous antivirus software.

Free Basic Protection

Kaspersky wants to offer basic protection like file, email, and web protection, quarantine function, and automatic updates, to web users who can’t afford to buy premium protection. Despite the risks of cyber attack, many users are deterred by the high prices of some leading antivirus software and turn to relying on Windows Defender or downloading and installing freebies that are not necessarily secure.

A free version of Kaspersky therefore provides an effective alternative to both.

Kaspersky Free vs. Windows Defender

Kaspersky filed three antitrust cases against Microsoft for apparently promoting its own basic antivirus, Windows Defender over competitors’ products on its Windows machines (something that’s denied by Microsoft).

With the creation of a free level for its own antivirus, Kaspersky is now on a par with Microsoft’s Windows Defender, which is the default antivirus of Windows 10. If users decide to switch, they may well turn to Kaspersky.

Not Directly Competing With Itself

Kaspersky antivirus offers paid-for protection with a yearly licence for £24.99. Premium features like virtual private network (VPN), online payment protection, and parental controls, will not be carried over to the free version. This means that the free version will not, in theory, compete directly with Kaspersky’s own premium version.

Kaspersky has argued that the move will benefit existing paid users as the company’s databases will now have more user data to trawl through and to feed into machine learning algorithms, thus improving the program for all. The free version is also much lighter on system resources but still able to detect any cyber threat.

Success With Little Promotion

There was little marketing promotion for the free version but initial trials in Russia and Scandinavia yielded several million new installations.

Despite this success, Kaspersky is reported to still be focused on raising the overall level of protection on the internet and not necessarily increasing its market share.

Ties To The Russian Government?

Recent US investigations have, however, hinted at possible ties between Kaspersky and the Russian government. Kaspersky has denied this. Nevertheless, a proposed bill has made its way through Congress attempting to block the use of any Kaspersky-related products by the US Department of Defence.

Earlier this month, Kaspersky defended itself from accusations when leaked emails said it was working with Russian security forces.

18 Months In Development

Kaspersky Free has been in development over an 18 month period. Now that it has been trialled and released in Russia, Scandinavia, and China, it will be rolled out worldwide in the coming months, landing in the UK this October.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Kaspersky is widely recognised as being one of the better types of antivirus software programs available, so the chance of getting a more basic, but still good version of it free may be helpful and cost-saving for individuals and small businesses. As well as promoting its brand globally, and picking up some more market share from Microsoft and from businesses that (after trying Kaspersky) switch up to the full version, freely available antivirus software of this calibre could also create a safer online environment.

Some other attractive features of the free version are that it works with USB sticks and other portable storage media, it provides protection against phishing and infected files being run, and, unlike other free antivirus software, it is ad-free.

It is important to remember, however, that cyber criminals now conduct sophisticated, multi-level attacks, and often target weak spots away from the traditional firewall and antivirus perimeter. There is also the near-future threat of AI being used to get around antivirus programs of all kinds (unless they are modified with their own AI manufacturers). Antivirus should, therefore, be considered as just one element in a multi-level defence that businesses now need to be truly protected against known, popular types of cyber attack.

Government Boosts Digital/Tech Industry with £700m Fund

The government has provided a boost to the UK’s digital and technology industries in the form of £700m of funding as part of the launch of its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Announced Last Year

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund was announced last year by Prime Minister Theresa May at the CBI Annual Conference in November, and is intended to be a strategic part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The big idea is that the fund can enable businesses and researchers to work together to identify industrial and societal challenges that are crucial to the UK economy, and offer opportunities for UK businesses to exploit these through innovation and positioning in e.g. a large or fast-growing and sustainable global market.

Divided Into Core Areas

The funding, which will be managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, will be divided into six core areas.

These are the development of new battery technologies for electric cars, robotics and AI systems for use in “extreme” environments, innovative technologies in aid of patients seeking new drugs and treatments faster, driverless automobile AI tech, aerospace materials and a satellite test facility.

Robots & AI First

The first competition for funding will be the development of robotics and artificial intelligence systems that can be deployed in extreme environments. In this first round, £42 million is up for grabs for research hubs that can translate fundamental science in robotics and AI into real-world applications.

The Largest Sum

The largest sum of £246 million funding will be available, as part of the ‘Faraday Challenge’, for businesses that can help the country move towards a low-carbon economy, through researching, developing and manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The UK has big ambitions to be a leading global digital and technology competitor, but also faces many challenges in enabling it to get there, such as a technology skills gap, difficulty in raising funding by traditional means, and the uncertainty of the possible effects of Brexit.

This Industrial Challenge fund could, therefore, be an important enabler for the tech industry and the economy as a whole by opening up new possibilities for the country, and by helping the UK to have an opportunity to lead the world in developing the kind of science that underpins new technologies and their applications. This could also provide many spin-off benefits and opportunities for many other UK businesses e.g. as suppliers to the new industries.

Amazon To Revolutionise Grocery Delivery?

Amazon is entering the grocery delivery business with its bid to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion but industry insiders say that it’s going to be a long and costly process for Amazon to revolutionize grocery delivery the way they revolutionized online retailing.

Not As Much Warehouse Space As Wal-Mart

Even though Amazon is well known for having a large amount of warehouse space, one key challenge that Amazon faces is the relative scale of its warehousing for the Whole Foods business. According to logistics consulting firm MWPVL International Inc., for example, Amazon has 3 million square feet of U.S. warehousing dedicated to its Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry grocery programs. This is only one-tenth of the warehouse space that Wal-Mart has for specialized food distribution.

This has led some former Amazon Fresh employees and logistics experts to conclude that Amazon will need to significantly grow its network of specialized grocery distribution warehouses in order to compete with Wal-Mart.

Fresh Food Different To Parcels

Another challenge for Amazon is that even though it has warehouses strategically located throughout America, along with 100 million square feet of fulfillment and data centers equipped with the latest robotics, warehouse facilities for fresh food distribution are far different to (and more complicated than) ordinary warehouses.

A single facility may need more than six different temperature settings to store products from ice cream to fruits. Some facilities may require certification from the US Food and Drugs Administration. There are also additional maintenance and cleanliness factors to be addressed e.g. for pest control and to avoid food contamination.

Big Investment Needed

All of these factors have led industry commentators to conclude that Amazon will need to invest a very significant amount of money into its fresh grocery business in a short space of time if it wants to become a serious competitor to Wal-Mart.

For example, Industry analysts predict that Amazon will have to add 12 or more warehouses if it wants to supply Whole Food stores, as well as running its normal home delivery operation.

Space Issue

It is thought that Amazon will likely to use United Natural Foods Inc. to supply Whole Foods with hard-to-source products, but even if Amazon uses Whole Foods stores to provide food for delivery, many of their outlets lack space to handle thousands of online orders.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Amazon has grown and diversified at an incredible rate in recent years, blurring the traditional retail dividing lines between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar. Its move to revolutionize US grocery delivery business and take on the entrenched might and experience of Wal-Mart through the acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc could seriously disrupt the U.S. grocery sector, but this will clearly require a lot more investment from Amazon if it is to be successful.

Even though there are significant challenges ahead for Amazon in terms of the type and number of warehouses needed to handle fresh groceries, many commentators agree that Amazon’s size, financial might and track record of entering news markets mean that it could well succeed.

The worry is that, if Amazon is successful in revolutionizing the fresh grocery market in the US, it could use this experience to set up a similar operation in the UK. This would pose a serious threat to UK grocery retailers. It could also, however, provide new opportunities to fresh grocery producers in the UK.

Gmail Ads Will Not Be Scanned Anymore

Google Cloud Computing Chief Diane Greene said in a blog post on Friday that Google will stop scanning Gmail content for creating personalized ads. This move, due to happen later this year, is in line with Google’s enterprise offering, G Suite.

G Suite Gmail Already Not Used

Diane Greene has said that G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization. G suite is Google’s set of (cloud based) intelligent apps (Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar) that is designed to help organizations to work collaboratively regardless of their physical location.


The announcement that Google will stop using the scanned content from Gmail outside of G Suite is significant because the Gmail service is estimated to have more than 1.2 billion users worldwide (compared to G Suite’s 3 million), and it should please privacy campaigners worldwide.

How Do Personalised Ads Work?

Personalised / targeted online adverts work by using a person’s browsing habits combined with other data collected from their online activities to display adverts that are more personalised or more likely to be relevant to that person’s likes and tastes, and may therefore be more successful. Advertisers claim that people look more positively on relevant adverts, and that their clients (the businesses buying the adverts) can make a better ROI using this method.

Privacy campaigners on the other hand object to too much monitoring and sharing and cross-referencing of a person’s data, and the fact that it can make the individual identifiable, and, therefore, could pose a security risk and / or give companies too much control.


It is common knowledge that Google has in fact been accessing its users ‘Gmail’ email service since its inception, to create the adverts which are shown to individual users with that email service.

Back in June last year, Google changed the way it tracks its users across the internet by combining users’ personally identifiable information from Gmail, YouTube and other accounts with their browsing records, despite previously pledging that these data sets would be kept separate to protect individuals’ privacy.

Users could opt-out of being tracked this way by visiting the activity controls section of their account page, and by then unticking the box marked “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services”.

Not The Only Ones

Google is certainly not the only company to track users and use their history, activity and content to deliver targeted ads. Facebook, for example, tracks likes and shares, and many websites that we all visit share our activities with networks of third parties who share, collaborate, link and de-link personal information to generate target ads.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Businesses clearly need to be able to advertise their products and services in order to sell them, and online advertising can be an immediate and cost effective option, particularly if it is intelligently targeted.

Too much online advertising, however, can be very frustrating for web users because it can hinder access to content and waste time, plus, in times where cyber crime levels are high and GDPR is on the way, we all need to able to (and are being given more powers to) protect our personal data.

This move by Google is therefore likely to be broadly welcomed, and is likely to provide Google with some good PR, although there will still be other ways that Google will collect information about us online to keep tailoring advertisements. For example, this could still include data from the videos we watch on YouTube, and what we search for online and through Google Chrome (if we’re signed into our Google accounts). Google will also still be able to scan the contents of our emails for anti-spam, anti-phishing, malware detection services.

It is possible to check how Google targets its adverts by going to the "Ads settings" option within Gmail.

Cash Second To Contactless Payments

Projected figures from payments industry trade body ‘Payments UK’ have shown that by as soon as next year, more payments will be made using debit cards than using cash.

Driven By The Popularity of Contactless Payments

The convenience and effectiveness of contactless payments are the drivers behind a trend that will see cash payments taking a backseat to debit card payments years earlier than expected.

Payments UK figures show that UK contactless payments in 2016 nearly trebled in 2016 compared to 2015 (to £2.9 billion), and they accounted for 7% the total number of payments.

By 2018 it is predicted that contactless payments will account for one-third of all debit card payments and that there will be more debit card payments (13.4 billion) than cash payments (13.3 billion).

If the trend continues, payment commentators predict that contactless debit card payments could account for more than 25% of payments by 2026.

Contactless Technology

Contactless technology enables users to ‘tap and pay’ without entering a PIN for items up to £30 at a time. This is achieved using a special chip in the customer’s credit / debit card / key fob, smart card (also a smartphone or other mobile device) that emits radio waves in the form of radio-frequency identification (RFID), near field communication (NFC), or Samsung Pay (MST). The shop terminal picks up the radio signal and then processes the transaction.

Contactless Cash Machines Trial

Back in November 2016, Barclays conducted a trial of a new system which allowed customers to use their normal PIN in combination with leaving their smart-phone handset near to the bank machine, thereby enabling "contactless" near-field communication (NFC) transmission for cash withdrawal.


Despite the obvious popularity of contactless and the bold predictions by Payment UK, not all customers trust the system. A Which? survey in August 2016 for example, showed that although 73% of people think that contactless cards make it quicker to pay for things, 69% are concerned about their contactless card being stolen and used to make purchases.

These concerns may not be completely unfounded because a recent Which? investigation into the contactless card security of 12 leading credit and debit cards found that they did have some security flaws.

Research has also shown that, even though banks pledge to refund any fraudulent purchases, this can often take some time, and refunds can be wrongly refused.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The decline in the use of cash is a worldwide trend and card issuers have essentially been driving the change in customer behaviour by introducing innovations like contactless payments. For retail businesses this has meant the need to invest heavily in new payments technology in order to make it easier and quicker for customers to securely complete transactions in-store. Retailers have, however, benefited from cost and time savings (and having to deal with less cash).

Although cash is declining in relation to card payments, in the real world (especially with small businesses), cash payments from customers are still very practical and preferable. From a customer’s point of view, although many now find contactless convenient for small purchases, some groups of society need to use cash to manage their finances, and some people prefer the anonymity of cash, as EPOS style systems have long-allowed companies and marketers to gather data about us and to profile us.

Experts predict that cash will not be dying out anytime soon and most businesses realise that they need to take account of the fact that people will always want to choose the payment method that best suits them.