Cardiff Breakfast Club 21st June – Adam Lawrence, The Royal Mint

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Business/Cardiff News, Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
Tags: , , , , ,

Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint was the guest speaker at the Cardiff Breakfast Club this morning. The native Australian’s early deflection of comments about certain ongoing sporting endeavours was well received by the audience, as was his engaging discussion of the historical but progressive institution, and his views on “The Future of Cash”.

The Royal Mint is over 1000 years old, and was originally situated within the Tower of London. It has been based at its 38-acre Llantrisant site since 1968, and is one of the most significant businesses in South Wales. The fully integrated site encompasses everything from design, to foundry, to marketing, and employs over 900 people. It is the sole producer of circulating UK currency and the world’s leading export mint, supplying more than 50 countries worldwide. Adam joined the Mint as Chief Operating Officer and May 2010, becoming Chief Executive in January 2011.

Discussing current payment habits, Adam stated that while spending has doubled since 2000, cash payments have only increased by 7%. However, this does not mean cash will soon become obsolete. Adam used cheques as an example. While they will be responsible for only 1% of payments by 2018, a move to get rid of cheques altogether a few years ago was unsuccessful. New payment methods tend to be additive, rather than replacing established ones.

Adam discussed ways in which payment technology is evolving with genuine interest, having tried a few of them himself! The Mint must be aware of and respond to the “new world” of digital technology, such as Barclaycard’s mini stick-on Visa credit card. Fixed to the back of a mobile phone, payment is made by holding it over a terminal, without the need to sign or enter a PIN. Adam believes the smartphone is the future of payment technology, with Barclay’s mini card just one way of “making people comfortable using their phones to pay for things”. 

Pingit is Barclays’ latest innovation, and works similarly to text messaging.  From his own experience of the money transfer application, Adam deemed it excellent in terms of security, but not yet entirely practical. However, each “failure” only brings a development “closer to success”.

Adam remained resolute however that these new technologies will not replace cash any time soon. It still plays a “critical role in every economy in the world”, and has some real advantages. Cash is trustworthy, universally accepted, and offers better privacy and security than cards. Importantly, it enables the spender to budget. With cash, “you can’t spend what you don’t have”, meaning a “reversion” to cash during tougher economic times.

Looking towards the future, Adam again emphasised that new systems are additive, and while cash use will erode it is not likely to be wiped out. Other more “vulnerable” payment methods such as cheques, credit cards and store cards are likely to disappear first. Currently, Adam said, the solutions we have are technological, rather than practical – for now at least, cash is “here to stay”.

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