The end of paper receipts?
A report in Wired has confirmed that Monzo – a leading new-age online bank with fancy cards – is introducing a system which will give customers itemised receipts in their bank accounts of any food and drink they buy in four restaurants: Pod, Pure, EAT and Itsu.
The move to immediate, itemised billing in your bank should appeal to customers looking for more control over what they are spending; and it should appeal to retailers who will be able to use the granular data to refine their offerings and maximise potential profit.
Whereas previously you had to keep endless paper receipts for any deep dives into your food and drink spending, in the future it will all be stored and easily accessible forever in a very modern way. It is such an obviously good idea that Costa Coffee, among others, is looking to sign up to Monzo’s new scheme in 2019.
In addition, there are many other benefits up for grabs if we ditch paper receipts. Firstly, receipts are made from thermal paper which is simply not recyclable. In a world where the trend is towards recycling, receipts manage to both stick out like a sore thumb and hide in plain sight.
Furthermore, the chemicals used to make the receipts, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS), have been deemed so harmful to people and the environment that they have been banned from other plastic products. For example, they are linked to hormone imbalances which can cause infertility, among other things. Trace amounts can accumulate, and the chemicals can be absorbed through the skin.
With all that in mind, Monzo’s move makes sense. This is a company with a history of innovation which is likely to shape our future. Investors are aware of Monzo and its potential to change the industry following previous positive moves like the introduction of a gambling block and ‘If This Then That’ technology which offers detailed personal financial management. For instance, you could set it to put £1 in a savings account every time you log onto twitter.
However, what might be a more interesting left-field investment is the company which is powering Monzo’s assault on paper receipts – Flux.
Flux is on a mission to rid the world of paper receipts and is doing rather well. Aside from the partnership with Monzo, Flux has partnered up with Starling Bank and Barclays Launchpad – the latter of which describes Flux as a “gamechanger”.
As well as getting rid of receipts, Flux’s partner restaurants can operate a loyalty system at the same time and use the data to give out digital offers. This is a big differentiator from traditional paperless receipts which makes them seem immediately redundant.
Many companies are currently attempting a shift to paperless receipts by asking for your email address when you make a purchase, but the integration of that into an online bank like Monzo is a potentially revolutionary development.
Flux looks like one of those firms that is teetering on the brink of not only becoming mainstream, but of changing day-to-day life in a significant way. Add in serious environmental and health benefits, and you have a winner on your hands. The Monzo news is significant, but the real story for investors might be the underlying technology. It is likely we will soon be hearing a lot more about it.