As we put 2020 behind us, we can all agree that it was quite an unexpected year featuring a global pandemic and causing uncertainty around the world. However, the pandemic forced a silver lining. Businesses of all sizes — from main street America to large corporations — had to adapt their business model as COVID changed consumer behavior and posed operating challenges. One industry that was primed for this adaptation was the payments industry.
For years, payments companies have been promoting emerging payment acceptance including mobile, online and contactless payments. Many businesses and consumers have been resistant, much like the transition to EMV — why change the payment process when it works?
I recall the day Apple Pay came out and the reaction was uncertain. Would consumers really use this every day or was this just a flashy, cool release for Apple to sell more iPhones? Fast forward to today — do you want to give your credit card to the cashier, or would you rather safely hold your phone close to the terminal for payment?
The pandemic accelerated the need to adopt emerging payment technology such as contactless, wireless and mobile wallet payments with more to come. This acceleration will continue into the first half of the new year until vaccines allow for safe card-present transactions.
With pressure from COVID and consumers on expanded payment acceptance methods, many businesses are just getting started in re-thinking the way they operate when it comes to taking payments from their customers. Software providers & developers must rethink their technology offering and payment solutions in order to be meet consumer demand, remain competitive and retain customers in 2021.
The shift in payment acceptance as a result of the pandemic will further energize innovation with new forms of payment acceptance this year. For now, several payment options have been preferred by consumers over the past 6 months and should be added to software platforms quickly, including:
- Contactless Payments — We all can agree on how important this payment option has become for in-person transactions. Contactless payment options are now a must-have for your software offering, providing a safe and convenient way for a consumer to pay. If contactless is not integrated into your software, it should be the first thing added to your platform, before any other payment option.
- Ecommerce / Online Stores — depending on what industry your software caters to — ecommerce or online ordering can not only meet consumer demand but also add a revenue stream that typically has not been there before. Take, for example, a performing arts or dance studio. In addition to paying for classes online, offering a store for branded clothing, costume ordering & dance accessories will allow consumers to pay digitally for items 24/7 and either pick them up or have them shipped, opening up a new revenue stream for the business and expanded geography to sell to, anywhere in the world.
- Order Ahead, Curbside Pick-Up — this payment strategy is moving quickly beyond restaurants and grocery and into retail and service businesses. Consumers can now order products from their phone or computer ahead of their arrival and pick them up curbside at businesses that typically didn’t offer this in the past such as the hardware store, the beauty salon, or the veterinarian.
Looking forward to 2021, there is no way to predict what challenges businesses and consumers will face. However, setting up your software offering to become competitive in the marketplace with diversified, consumer-friendly payment options is imperative. Your customers will be loyal to your business and thank you for enabling their success as we move out of the pandemic and into a year of recovery.