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Memo from Musgrave: Money in the modern, mobile world

I had an unexpected trip down memory lane late last week after losing my mobile phone on a train in Lancashire.

Realising my handy Samsung was no longer handy, I was forced to use a public telephone to communicate with home. That was a strange experience after about 12 years. Who knew that the minimum cost of a domestic call is 60p? Here in the Drapers office my editorial colleagues guessed between 20p and 50p. 

Anyway, there was general consternation among my colleagues that anyone would use a public phone. Most of my 20-something team have not used one since they got their first mobile at the age of about 13. Our 23-year-old intern has never used a public call box. This is the modern, mobile-centric world.

Against that background, one has to presume that mobile-based payment systems like Apple Pay are going to become mighty popular mighty quickly. Next month, iPhone users in this country will be able to try out Apple Pay, while Android Pay from Google and Samsung Pay (for all us Korean telecoms loyalists) will not be far behind. Maybe this year, maybe next. Android users at Drapers are outnumbered two to one by Apple users and there is a general acceptance among the team that they will jump aboard this payment bandwagon once all the terms, conditions, costs and implications are revealed. Oh yes, and when they have upgraded to the iPhone 6, which has the software…

I have every confidence that mobile payments will spread very quickly because I am now getting frustrated every time even contactless card payment is not available. Who has the time to key in four digits any more? The current limit of £20 on contactless payments is going up to £30 in the autumn and it will only keep rising. Retailers can waive this limit for Apple Pay, I am reliably informed, as the phone is “protected” by the owner’s fingerprint scan.

The interesting question for retailers is what the cost will be to become ready for Apple Pay and its rivals and what the transaction fees will be. Last week, we received a wave of releases from brands and retailers announcing they were Apple Pay-ready (see pages 2-3), so there is a real danger that those who don’t accept mobile contactless payments will be at a disadvantage fairly quickly. 

Another indication of the changing fashion landscape came last week from the surprising news that German-based etailer Zalando has bought control of Bread&Butter Berlin, the insolvent trade fair. Precisely what the strategic thinking is behind this is unclear, but after international boutiques site Farfetch.com bought Browns in South Molton Street and US luxury store group Neiman Marcus acquired Mytheresa.com, the German fashion site, some intriguing alliances are being forged in the new world.

The new world and the old world and most things in between were celebrated last Thursday at our Drapers Footwear Awards. Our new venue of the summer, the Pavilion in the moat of the Tower of London (yes, really!), was a huge, sunny success – see for yourself on pages 10-12.

Our clothing independents will gather for their awards lunch in London on September 16. To join the 25th anniversary party, even if you are not a contender, go to Independentawards.drapersonline.com

For major retailers and their suppliers, we have overhauled the Drapers Awards and added some pertinent categories, such as Best Place To Work, Best Innovation In Fashion Retailing, Most Improved Retailer and The CSR Award. To enter by next Friday, June 19, check out the full list at Awards.drapersonline.com

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