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Eftpos is “about to be SMACd” as it faces an unprecedented ­challenge by new players in digital and ­mobile payments.

Eftpos Australia managing director Bruce Mansfield made the comment at the Beyond the Boardroom forum in Sydney ­yesterday.

The new-age competition includes upcoming digital wallets by Apple and Samsung, and other peer-to-peer payment solutions through apps. Mr Mansfield said past innovation had taken time to take hold.

“The contactless stuff primarily came from the incumbents — the Visas, the Mastercards of this world, ” Mr Mansfield told the forum. “PayPal came along and built through analytics and ­smarter technology a better way for consumers to shop.

“So historically we’ve seen long tail innovation, either through external disruption or through ­internal efficiency gains.

“We’re now at this cusp — whether it be a cliff or a cusp — where it’s just all going to change dramatically.”

He predicted disruption would be huge. “We don’t know how much impact this is going to have over the next two years. Whatever you think, it’s going to be much bigger than that.”

He said eftpos had spent 25 years with one innovative product and nothing changed.

“A great business to be in, right? We grew from one transaction in 1986 to 2.5 billion transactions a couple of years ago. Well, guess what? We’re about to be SMACd. And it’s as simple as that.

The term SMACd refers to social, mobile, analytics and cloud disruption.

“So our focus is really now on making sure we have the right stance to be able to adapt, whether it be with our incumbents, our ­existing participants, but also with the newbies, ” Mr Mansfield said.

He said Australia had “really good plumbing” in payments and banking, a foundation for innovation. “But really the focus now needs to be to find a way to add on top of that innovation and plug it into the existing plumbing. You know, we can’t end the conversation on payments without Apple ... they innovate with their products and they use the ­existing plumbing, being contactless, a great example of innovation.”

Mr Mansfield also raised the power of the community in the digital age to rate a service provider. “We’re all pretty pleased about that. But it goes both ways.”

He said the Hilton Hotel was saying: “Why don’t we start rating guests to determine how good they were? If this guy doesn’t turn up or he drinks the minibar dry and leaves his towels on the floor, I’m going to gas that into my system; I’m going to make a decision on whether I want that person in my hotel at a certain price point.”

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