Are we about to witness a revolutionary change in the way we pay for goods and services? To date the main method for purchasing over the internet and other new channels is via credit and debit cards. However, shoppers still say they are concerned about the security issues around using their cards online. Surveys and research reports cite huge growth potential for online purchasing and the provision of services if these security issues can be addressed. A structural shift in the payment process seems inevitable. The implications will be profound for the retail industry, and grocery in particular. Over the past few years we have seen an unprecedented surge in the use of credit and debit cards but these are not the only possible form of potential payment systems. A number of key markets and areas for the shopper's purse remain relatively untouched by the plastic card. The way forward for the industry might be the development of new electronic cash payment systems. The technology is already available to achieve this. In North America, work has commenced to implement a virtual cash system. This work is based on an agreed set of international engineering standards which both protect the data and enable payment clearance between the participants. This new system looks set to follow on in Europe and will open up a market currently inaccessible to retailers. Research suggests ownership and use of plastic cards in the grocery sector remains the preserve of a large but nevertheless minority share of shoppers. For Tesco, Sainsbury and the other grocers this represents a major barrier to growth when innovating service lines such as home delivery and online shopping. Finding new ways to access the shopper's wallet through alternative, secure payment systems for non-discretionary spend items will be critical if the potential of the new electronic and home delivery channels is to be maximised. {{NEWS }}