Nano Bits. When Nano Meets Print.

Read More

Stay up to date with nano news

Paperless Payment Highlights Need for New Printing Technologies

Monday, 01 September 2014 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

Visitors to London may have already noticed that London’s buses are no longer accepting cash in payment for the fare. Later this year the same will apply to travelling on the London underground as the ubiquitous Oyster Card becomes the main method of payment for both residents and visitors in London travelling on the Transport for London (TfL) system.

Contactless payment cards are also being accepted by the Oyster card readers, so there will be no more scrabbling for cash to buy a ticket, no more queues at the ticket office and of course fewer people employed selling tickets. TfL say that the numbers paying cash for their journeys has dropped from 25% ten years ago to lower than 1% today, so the change is understandable. It is a further sign of our changing habits, along with online shopping and internet banking, meaning the use of banknotes and coins is declining rapidly.

Cash-free Oyster card

The cash-free Oyster Card introduced by “Transport for London” (TfL)

What the printers employed at the Bank of England’s printing department in Debden near London think of this change will be difficult to judge, but you could be forgiven for thinking that some of them might be wondering about the impact on the product they spend their time producing.

Banknotes have been used in England for over three hundred years, starting with promissory notes issued by goldsmiths and bankers in the City of London. These notes were of variable amounts but when the Bank of England was established in 1694, to help raise money for a war – against the French of course – they started to take the lead in producing banknotes.

By 1853 the Bank had started printing fixed denomination notes from a site in Old Street not far away, but as demand grew a new site was established at Debden in 1956, where it has remained ever since. There is a lot of currency expertise in the Debden site and the latest products include banknotes printed on polymer substrates for longer life.

“Necessity is the Mother of Invention” – for Printing Too

The change in buying tube tickets may only be a small one for the vast majority of travellers, but it does reflect the impact being felt in the printing industry by rapid developments in technology which eliminate the need for printed products.

Making banknotes cheaper or longer lasting will have no effect on the change to contactless payment. And there are other changes having a similar effect on printing, such as e-ticketing on smartphones and newspapers being delivered directly to tablet computers.

Those of us in the printing industry will have to find new products and markets in order to stay in business. We may not be printing banknotes in Debden at some point in the future, but with new printing technologies such as Nanography®, I’m confident that we’ll create some exciting alternatives.

Image source (lobby):
Image source :

Commercial Market