If you were travelling to the first-ever World Expo, commonly known as the Great Exhibition of 1851, that was held in London, you would — just like some six million other visitors — likely have been carrying traveller’s cheques to exchange for cash in pound sterling.
Some might even have brought along silver or gold to swap for local currency. Fast-forward to 2021 — never mind millions of visitors from around the world having to make a trip to the money exchange or bank — we’re paying simply by tapping a plastic card, smartphone or wearable over a card reader, or by plugging in our card digits online.
The key word: Contactless.
Around the world, consumers are opting for contactless transactions. The technology isn’t new, but usage soared quickly overnight due to safety concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic, driving widespread adoption of contactless payments. This digital convenience, once experienced, will now fuel further acceptance even after safety concerns subside. More importantly, however, the accelerated shift now calls for new and expanded use cases to transform the next iteration of commerce — and Expo 2020 Dubai provides both opportune timing and a matchless global stage for this purpose, uniting innovation, business and growth.
After all, technology has been the cornerstone of World Expos, with some of the most fascinating innovations showcased at the fair. Even a century ago, the Great Exhibition aimed to show that technology was the way to a better future. From the early version of the fax machine in 1851 to a videoconferencing device and an autonomous car showcased in 1964, to scientific instruments like electric telegraphs, microscopes, barometers and surgical instruments, Expos have always been the platform for early predecessors of technologies that have gone on to become commonplace, and forever change the way we live and work.
The payments landscape has changed dramatically since the first World Expo, because, if you think about it, money, in and of itself, has no real value. Money is valuable only because it is accepted as a form of payment.
In this vein, as the recommended merchant acquirer of Expo 2020 Dubai, Network International’s payment devices will be fully integrated with the Expo’s point of sale (POS) system. The ready-to-go integrated POS solution provided by Expo 2020 Dubai will enable all commercial and international participants to engage in commercial activities on site. The seamless integration will facilitate merchant acceptance of all types of card transactions including contactless and QR payments.
But even as we take the making and collection of electronic payments for granted today, our current methods too are destined to evolve into completely new forms.
Guided by the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas combining in new ways, Expo 2020 Dubai represents the dawn of the next era of innovation where new opportunities in technology will unlock doors to a new tomorrow.
For us in the payments world, the vision of how we pay in the future is what we will see co-created by our global industry at Expo 2020 Dubai. As the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa, we remain committed to staying at the forefront of that vision as we continue charting new opportunities and play our part in the making of a new world.
The writer is regional president for the UAE at Network International. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy.
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