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UK Finance: Contactless Changing the Way We Pay

Contactless spending in the first half of 2017 was £23.23 billion, compared to £9.27 billion in the first half of 2016. So, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the UK’s launch of contactless technology, UK Finance published the latest usage figures on Monday, 4 September.

The first contactless cards in the UK were launched in September 2007, increasing by 26% in 2016, with 111 million contactless cards in issue as of June 2017. Contactless usage is expected to increase four-fold by 2026. During the first half of this year the amount spent using contactless technology (£23.23 billion) almost matched the amount spent in 2016 (£25 billion).

The most popular places for using contactless cards are supermarkets, off-licences and other food and drink retailers, accounting for 45% of contactless spending. Restaurants, fast food establishments, pubs and coffee shops were also popular with consumers paying with contactless. New uses for contactless include donation points to be used by charities and ongoing rollouts of contactless ticketing on public transport across the country.

Richard Koch, Head of Cards at UK Finance, said:

“Contactless has revolutionised the way consumers pay, and is increasingly being used instead of cash for transactions under £30.

“With a generation of customers now used to the convenience of paying with contactless we are confident that the places you can use it will continue to grow, with usage predicted to increase four-fold in the next 10 years.”

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at Transport for London, said:

 “Contactless payments have completely transformed how people pay for travel in London.  We’ve now seen more than one billion journeys made using contactless payment cards and on average two million journeys are made every day. Transport has led the way on contactless and become the catalyst for the use of this new payment method. The benefits to customers have been immeasurable and many world cities are now looking to adopt similar payment systems on their transport network.”

Download the report here

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned the new Government not to overlook the domestic agenda as it starts the negotiations over withdrawing from the EU. 

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Brexit is clearly the most urgent focus for the new Government but it will only be successful if the Government fully backs small businesses, the backbone of the economy, whose ambitions will need to be harnessed to make use of any new trade deals.

“UK negotiators must have their interests in mind, including easy access to the single market and the ability to hire workers with the skills they need.”

The organisation also warned the Government not to revisit plans to raise National Insurance on the self-employed. 

“Many self-employed strivers were frightened during the recent election by the threat of a tax grab on them in the form of higher National Insurance Contributions,” said Mr Cherry. “I call on the new minority Government to rule that out once and for, to reassure entrepreneurs seeking to help our economy grow that they will not have extra obstacles thrown in their way.”

He also called for reform of the outdated business rates system and the need to tackle the poor treatment of many small firms by big business customers: “We look forward to working constructively with the new Government on all of these issues.”



The Institution of Lighting Professionals ( is the UK and Ireland’s largest professional lighting association, dedicated solely to excellence in lighting. They say that moving streetlights ‘could help to protect public from vehicle terror attacks’.


In the wake of the horrific terror attack in Barcelona, and the increasing frequency of similar car- or van-based attacks across Europe, the Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) has argued that rethinking the location of street lighting could be one way to help protect the public in future.


ILP president Alan Jaques has suggested that simply re-siting lampposts or lighting columns towards the front of any footway, rather than at the back as is nowadays more commonplace, could help to deter or even prevent such attacks.


Vehicle-based terror attacks are notoriously difficult for security forces to prevent. Yet, at the same time, no one wants to turn city centres into concrete fortresses. In specific locations re-siting existing street furniture such as lighting columns could therefore be one innovative solution.


Such lighting columns could be specified to a higher strength to provide higher resistance than normal units, meaning the use of street lighting in this way could become a valuable added protection for the public.


‘Siting columns towards the front of the footway will help to prevent vehicles from driving for long distances along the footway with the sole purpose of causing harm,’ Alan explains.


‘Lighting columns may not, of course, completely stop the largest HGVs, but they would certainly slow them down, providing people with additional life-saving seconds to make their escape.


‘People are used to seeing lighting columns, so wouldn’t be concerned by seeing them being relocated or sited along footways in greater numbers, and they wouldn’t realise they were there to make them safer at all times of the day and not just at night,’ he adds.


Alan’s suggested solution is set to appear in the September edition of Lighting Journal, the ILP’s monthly members’ CPD journal. The full article will be available to view online, at, from September.


New Standards for Fogging Systems

The Association of Insurance Assessors (AiS) is a group of individual risk control and reduction experts working in the insurance market throughout the UK.

Through its collective expertise and influence, it aims to pursue continuous improvement in all aspects of protection of persons and property against insurable risks. The main way this is achieved is through the collection, collation and dissemination of information on products and services, and the developments affecting best practice in the field of risk surveying and consultancy.

Supported entirely by members’ subscriptions, AiS is independent of the Insurance and Security industries. This allows it to focus completely – without fear of outside influence – on the improvement of its members’ skills and their job satisfaction.

Fogging systems are now in wide-spread use as a security precaution. Their purpose is to obscure, and therefore prevent access, to valuable items. As such they are frequently used in the retail sector, among others, to prevent access to high value items such as alcohol, tobacco, jewellery etc. They are also used by the banking sector to protect safes and strong rooms, and have a high deterrent value when used correctly.

However, following a number of system failures it was decided that a code of practice was required to improve performance.  These failures included insufficient performance, i.e. the fog was too slow, did not fill the room, or wasn’t dense enough, Failure to activate at all – sometimes due to not being serviced correctly – and sometimes not configured correctly with the alarm system.

A working party, including the principal suppliers, was convened by AiS Chairman, Lee Wallace, and a Code of Practice agreed, with the expectation that both British and European standards will be amended in the fullness of time.

More information about the Association of Insurance Assessors can be found here

The AiS Guidelines on Security Fogging can be downloaded here


The product standards for portable ladders are changing

BS EN 131 – the single British and European product standard covering all types of portable ladders has been substantially revised. The changes that come with this revision will help improve the safety of ladders and make buying the right ladder simpler.

These changes will affect everyone involved with ladders, from users and specifiers to suppliers and health & safety professionals. The Ladder Association has produced a comprehensive guide explaining what the changes to ladder standards mean and how they will affect you.

It includes: a look at the features of ladders manufactured to the new standard; guidance on the use of ladders to withdrawn standards; and advice for businesses and users on buying ladders.

The guide is available to download.


On 11 August the Mayor of London published the draft London Environment Strategy which aims to make London a zero carbon city by 2050. The Mayor is taking a range of actions to improve the environment now, setting London on the path to create a better future.

The strategy brings together in one document every aspect of London’s environment: Air quality, green infrastructure, climate change mitigation and energy, waste, adapting to climate change, ambient noise, and transition to a low carbon circular economy.

The ADE produced a briefing for Association members, which provides an overview of the key points of interest of the consultation, which closes on 17th November 2017. The ADE will be submitting a response and will circulate a draft for members to provide comment in due course.

For more information about the Mayor’s draft plan, please see the following Policy & Regulation News post


Association News

TechSmart NFP 2017 – Definitely Not Your Ordinary Conference

28th November, County Hall

This is not another sector event where you’re packed into a hotel conference centre, and doing your best to avoid the exhibition area. It’s the opposite. At TechSmart NFP, the leading tech providers take centre stage and shape our entire programme.

This is only a one-day event, and it’s jam-packed. We understand that it’s tough enough finding time away from the office. Therefore, our Programme is punchy and to the point. We will give you meaningful, practical advice and insights from the industry experts – and your peers – with simple take-aways that you can put into practice straight away.  

Book now and save over 22% 

Headline Speakers

Simon Devonshire, OBE – serial entrepreneur! Simon is fascinated by the whole new era of technology we’re entering, which has the potential to “transform everything around us from being passively dumb to being predictively intelligent”.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of Corsham Institute, is a specialist in digital transformation and was voted 20th in Computer Weekly’s list of 50 Most Influential Women in IT 2016. Rachel won the Founder’s Award 2017 at the Digital Leaders event in June 2017.

Dominic Campbell – due to popular demand, he is back! Dominic is a digital government and social innovation entrepreneur. He founded FutureGov to prove the power of digital and design for government transformation, focusing on creating better cheaper public services.

Take a closer look at our Keynote Speakers 

Everything you need to get your digital transformation on track

Strand 1 – Catching up, then keeping up

If you want to know what a strategy for CRM and associated technologies looks like, and how to ensure that it delivers what you need today – but is also future-proofed – this is the strand for you.

Strand 2 – Emerging tech

If you’re looking ahead to what is coming down the track technology-wise, and how to prepare your organisations for the future, this is the strand to attend.

Strand 3 – Drowning in data

If you want to learn how to harness data to help drive engagement with members, supporters and stakeholders, this is your best bet.

Different ways for you to learn – it’s punchy and to the point

TED-style Talks: our Sponsors are passionate about what they do and are leading tech experts. They will educate and entertain you with all the insights about their topics – in just 20 minutes!

Lightning Talks: Want to hear from some of the best technology providers without having to do all the small talk and sit through a full presentation? These tech experts will be on the clock, they will get exactly 5 minutes to tell you why they are different.

Client case studies and roundtable discussions: due to popular demand, there are even more opportunities to get involved, contribute and share with your peers. They are people just like you who have been through a similar experience.

Take a peek at our Programme

Work doesn’t need to feel like work

No need to wear a suit – it’s a relaxed informal set up, with a venue to match. And great content!

Plus: Coffee, cakes and snacks throughout the day; Soft sofa seating – chat with your colleagues or experts away from the crowds; Photographer to take professional headshots; and, Cocktails from 5:00pm!


Association News

TechSmart NFP2017 is a fast-paced day filled with opportunities to meet a wide range of industry experts, digital leaders, solution providers and thought leaders. A lot of thought has gone into the programme, which has been designed specifically for non-profit organisations.


You’ll hear directly from the experts about data and technologies for today and the future, including, but not restricted to:

How to assess the “health” of your organisation; how best to leverage your data; getting your organisation fit for today; and innovative and emerging tech specific to the sector. Also, ‘Measuring Member Engagement’ – what works and what doesn’t; what’s trending in the digital world; and email marketing and social media – how to harness both for success…


Three Main Streams 

In Catching up Then Keeping Up’ sector strategists explain how to plan your technology strategy and ensure it covers all the key areas of your organisation – for now and the future. If you want to know what a strategy for CRM and associated technologies looks like, and how to ensure that it delivers what you need today – but is also future-proofed – this is the strand to attend.


In the ‘Emerging Tech’ stream, industry tech leaders highlight the key future technologies and innovations that non-profit organisations need to be aware of. If you want to know what is coming down the track technology-wise, and how to prepare your organisations for the future, this is the strand to attend.


Finally, ‘Drowning in Data’, lets sector leaders address a common dilemma that many non-profit organisations face – how to harness data to help drive engagement with members, supporters and stakeholders. So, if you want help to understand the value of the data you hold and maximising it for business benefit, this is the strand to attend.

Informed Decision-Making


In addition to the three strands, our programme includes a number of other session formats and exciting activities that you can participate in, including: Supplier ‘Lightning Talks’, in-depth roundtable discussions, and ‘Ask the Experts’ sessions.


Keynotes sessions will include thought leadership, innovation, and the Digital Age. Fundamental to the programme will be the keynote sessions. These sessions will transform complex information into accessible and entertaining insights and provide a ‘crystal ball’ vision that will prepare our NFP audience for what is coming next technology-wise. We have invited real-world sector experts to talk about tech trends and to leverage their knowledge and expertise to provide in-depth insights into the future of technology and entrepreneurship.


We are delighted to announce that Simon Devonshire OBE, entrepreneur, investor, and Non-Executive Director, will be our opening keynote of the day. Rachel Neaman, CEO, Corsham Institute, will be bringing us together again at her keynote after lunch. Dominic Campbell, Founder and MD FutureGov, is back by popular demand.



Association News

Digital conversion rates should be better, and improving them should be a top priority for those who want their website to be a success. When done well, Conversion Rate Optimisation is a fantastic (and fun) process that gleans fascinating results and has a positive impact on any website, simply by finding out what users want and giving it to them. In this article Footprint Digital ( Head of CRO Alex Eade explains why this process is something that more websites should make use of.

I’ll let you into a secret. Sometimes, I really hate websites. That’s not the sort of thing a digital marketer should say. I should be saying that websites are the best thing since sliced bread. I’d be more inclined to say this if more websites actually did what they set out to do, and did it in a user-friendly way.


Far too often, websites are complex, incoherent, and (if I’m honest) a mess. They’re a pain to use, and put people off. There are too many pop ups, superfluous forms, and illogical navigation bars, and it’s infuriating.


I dream of a world where websites just work. Where websites are a pleasure to use, and really are better than sliced bread. The good news is that I think this is an achievable. Through my work as Head of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) at Footprint Digital I am able to contribute to this utopian vision by working with NFP organisations to make their web experiences more enjoyable and more effective.


Not for Profit organisations tend to want to increase membership sign ups, increase user engagement and improve efficiencies. The key to achieving these objectives is to improve the web experience for their visitors. However, it’s more than that; a good website makes people happy, whereas users often blame themselves if they can’t get a website to work – it makes them feel stupid, and that’s not beneficial for anyone.


So, what’s the answer: What is CRO?


At Footprint Digital, we often get asked ‘what exactly is CRO?’

In a nutshell, Conversion Rate Optimisation is the process of: understanding why people do not convert, and changing your website in ways that will make it user friendly and persuasive enough to get people to do what you want them to do (often through A/B testing).

For example, a common problem that websites have is the ability to persuade people to register. Registering on a website can be a faff. Registration forms are often not very intuitive, and if you make the slightest mistake you’re sent back to the beginning to fill out your mother’s maiden name for the umpteenth time and tell a bunch of strangers that you called your first dog ‘Mr Whooferson’. Conversion Rate Optimisation will analyse your registration process from a user perspective, work out what’s wrong with it, and fix it so that less of your users slam their laptops shut whilst tearing their hair out, and more of them convert.


User Experience & Flow


One concept that I always come back to when performing CRO is that of customer ‘flow’. McDowell et al (2016) discovered that websites with better conversion rates usually have users who are in flow – i.e they are deeply immersed & involved in using the website. A user’s flow is disrupted by common website annoyances- think download delays, a really slow load time, hyperlinks not linking, spelling mistakes, and poorly designed (often mandatory) registrations. Poor user experience and a poor user journey will stop your website from converting because there are too many hurdles and distractions, meaning people simply cannot immerse themselves. Flow is enhanced by things like a smooth checkout processes, a welcoming homepage, and a good visitor greeting. Basically, a good website equals good flow.


What Should CRO Look Like?


There are many ways to approach CRO. The worst (in my humble opinion) is to make assumptions without research.

There are many generic assumptions that can be made about low conversions. For example, you could assume that people aren’t converting because Polly the copywriter doesn’t write lengthy product descriptions. However, consumer research might tell you that poor old Polly’s descriptions are fine and it’s the page layout that’s frustrating people. Without research, your CRO process will be a stab in the dark, and you will waste valuable resources (and upset Polly in the meantime). Skimping on research is lazy, and it’s not how we do things at Footprint Digital!


Our approach to CRO is thus. Start with research. Gather current customer opinions, perform user testing, audit the website for things that impact user flow. Find out why people aren’t converting. Look at what your competitors’ websites do better than you. Then, take this research and create new web page designs to test against the original page. Use the test data to determine whether the original or the test page converts best. Then, carry on testing things and feeding the data back in to really optimise your CRO. Simple.


At Footprint Digital we believe that CRO should be cyclical, with the test results feeding back into the research to expand what we know. Through this ongoing process we are able to consistently improve web experiences and hope that little by little we can make the world of web a better place. 

Alex Eade, Head of CRO, Footprintdigital  


If you’d like to learn more then please visit the Conversion Rate Optimisation ( and check in on the Footprint Digital Blog (



Association News

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers: Report Spotlights Sector Challenges and Opportunities


Increased operating costs and tightening margins have highlighted the importance of support for the sector and the need for clarity over Brexit, according to the latest edition of the ALMR Christie & Co Benchmarking Report, launched today (11.07.2017).


The ALMR Christie & Co Benchmarking Report benchmarks operating costs, market trends and sector performance and is the most comprehensive study of its kind in licensed hospitality. The 2017 edition shows operating costs passing the 50% mark for the first time in the survey’s history, with growth across the sector continuing to slow. Operating costs across all trading styles now stand at 51.5% of turnover, with growth across the entire survey at 1.1%. The survey also highlights areas of positivity, with licensed accommodation, the success story of last year’s Report, growing at 5.1%; and nightclubs experiencing resurgence with 3.6% growth.


Capital expenditure has also returned to the sector and now exceeds the levels observed pre recession. Some of this expenditure is likely to be defensive in nature, although with so many private equity backed pub and restaurant businesses in the UK, there are clearly bigger growth opportunities within the sector.


For the first time the Report includes a confidence survey which highlights that there is confidence within the sector, particularly trading prospects for 2017 in both anticipated like-for-like turnover growth and anticipated profitability. The majority of respondents felt Brexit would have little impact to their business in 2017.


ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Employers are looking at the political instability and uncertainty caused by Brexit and the possibility of significant cost increases, as wages rise and rates reliefs expire. There is a risk that additional costs could hit at a time of great instability hitting eating and drinking out businesses that are crucial to the UK economy and have helped restore prosperity to our town and city centres. However, the continuing growth of accommodation in the eating and drinking out market, and the welcome revitalisation of nightclubs, highlights the innovation and dynamism on show in our sector.


“Venues are responding to challenges by adapting and providing customers with new and exciting experiences. It should be remembered though, that this growth could be undermined if the Government does not provide adequate support for businesses and fails to bring about the stability and access to labour that employers are going to need.”


Neil Morgan, Managing Director – Pubs & Restaurants at Christie & Co, adds, “Despite the well-documented decline in pub numbers over the past three decades we are seeing a more lean and competitive sector emerging as operators diversify and respond to the continuing evolution of the UK consumer landscape. There is clearly confidence in the sector, highlighted by the Report’s confidence survey and increasing levels of capital expenditure, however there are a number of political and economic pressures which could threaten some operators, all exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations. What is clear is that operators must prepare for both the challenges and opportunities; therefore the need for effective business planning is more essential than ever if operators are to not merely weather the storm but seek to thrive in the long term. ”