oose elAny visit to Hazel Mountain Chocolate is an experience — the delightful tearooms snuggled in the foothills of the Burren. This is a place where you don’t want to hurry, where you want time to stand still. Pastries, organic lunches, tea served in quirky pots, in little rooms off the shops. And when you have finished your delightful treat, you can see where and how it is all made.
Here Kasha and John Connolly have created one of the hottest destinations in the Burren, a brilliant meld of coffee house, chocolate factory and tasting rooms that amounts to one of the essential places to visit in North Clare. And now, they have their store at Middle Street in the heart of Galway city where they have the Choc Lock In where up to 15 guests get behind the scenes of chocolate with an exclusive tour and tasting guided by their chocolatier. Kasha is a trained chocolatier and a third-generation baker, and what chocolatelovers need to know is that their Hazel Mountain Chocolate is bean-to-bar, the rarest artisan food you can find in Ireland.
Experiences like this are rare, and like theproduce, are there to be savoured, so John is a total convert to the concept of cashless payments so that time is not wasted on the cash transfer aspect. “When you look at the amount of time that we spend dealing with the transfer of cash in our small everyday transactions. Handling cash is labour intensive, counting it, sorting it, making sure it gets into your account. With card payments, you have none of that. The transfer is done without any of the sorting, counting and physical transfer into the bank.
“Even when you are at a bar and dealing with the bar staff. You get your drinks, you ask how much, the barman goes back to the till and tots it up, and then comes back to you with the price. It is a lot of coming and going, and it is valuable time that could be spent enhancing the experience.
“Anything that slows down the cash transfer aspect of business is a missed opportunity for businesses to interact more with their customers. I often see queues and people at the back will drift away if too much time is spent on the transfer of cash at the front. I have seen businesses where a staff member will stand at the back of the queue and engage these waiting in conversation to proven this, to add on a part of the experience, to tell them about the products or whatever.
“I think that cashless payments are the way to go for certain businesses. Granted, it won’t suit every business, but for cafes and stories like ourselves, where you come in to sample an experience, then to have a large part of that interaction time spent on just handling money is a waste of an opportunity to market your business or to tell your customers about the products and services you have,” he said.
An event held in Galway last week heard how research commissioned by Visa has revealed that Irish small businesses are at the risk of falling behind international peers in their adoption of digital payments technology.
The research shows that Irish SMEs could individually save between €5,000 and €6,000 per year on cash handling costs by increasing the amount of electronic payments they process.
Irish consumers now spend more by card than cash, with shoppers spending an average of €10,465 on cards per capita each year, compared to €5,388 in cash. Contactless payments are one of the key drivers behind this trend with the technology now accounting for one in three of all face-to-face Visa transactions in Ireland Despite Irish shoppers’ preference for cards, there is a perception among some parts of the Irish retail community that cash is less expensive for businesses to process, but this is something that John Connolly dismisses.
“I don’t find that at all. It is cheaper to accept €1 as a card payment rather than cash, with cash handling costing 2.5 cents per euro of sales compared to 1.6 cents for a card transaction.”
The study explains the difference by showing that card costs are, for certain merchants, fundamentally fixed, whereas the cost of handling cash has more variable elements. For example, back office administration accounts for 25% of the cost of cash, with the physical volume handled representing the other 75%. As the volume of cash accepted increases, greater resources are needed for counting, checking and controls during the day and for banking purposes. To explore this, Visa commissioned research to investigate the hidden costs of cash in terms of back office and security costs and better understand how they compare to card transactions. The research established that for the businesses involved in the study it is cheaper to accept €1 as a card payment rather than cash, with cash handling costing 2.5 cents per euro of sales compared to 1.6 cents for a card transaction.
As the volume of cash accepted increases, greater resources are needed for counting, checking and controls during the day and for banking purposes. The research showed that time businesses spent counting cash transactions was on average 94 minutes a day, versus totalling card transactions which was 28 minutes per day.
These figures reflect the efficiencies that cards can deliver for a business. As a result, business owners could save anywhere between €5,000 and €6,000 per year on cash handling costs.
Commenting on the research findings, Philip Konopik, Country Manager, Ireland, Visa said that the Irish retail sector is at a crossroads as consumers increasingly choose electronic payments over cash, opting for convenient and secure digital transactions instead.
“We believe this trend is set to accelerate due to new innovations in contactless payments, particularly around mobile technology. The scale of change over the next ten years will be even more dynamic with developments in areas like biometrics and the Internet of Things."
“Despite consumers embracing electronic payments, Irish retailers who are unable to accept new payment methods risk missing out on sales and incurring excessive costs. Digital payments can also enable small Irish merchants to become more efficient and automated. New digital till systems have the potential to provide retailers with immediate data and insights into their business, helping them to reduce costs with automated accounting and inventory control. These additional benefits of accepting card transactions over cash have the potential to truly transform a small business,” he concluded.