Reimagining Payments as the World Reopens

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Spring is here, and with it comes a sense of hope. It’s not a new phenomenon, but one that seems especially sweet this year as the world begins to get glimpses of life post-COVID.

With leaders and decision makers starting to unveil reopening plans, the world eagerly awaits. What will our daily lives look like after the COVID dust settles? It’s difficult to think through the small details of every experience and interaction that may look even slightly different.

While the idea of things being “different” often makes people uncomfortable, when it comes to payments, there is a unique opportunity to improve as we adapt to new norms. In our world, “different” means fast, simple, equitable and accessible payments for all.

The scoop on payments

This March, Payments Canada released statistics around the impact of the pandemic on payments. The quick summary? Digital and touchless payments™ are in. In fact, 42% of Canadians report that COVID-19 has “changed their payment preferences to digital and contactless for the long-term”.

This shift away from cash and towards digital isn’t just exclusive to Canada, either. According to Pew Research, even in the US – where the adoption of digital and touchless payments™ has lagged – about 34% of adults under the age of 50 make no purchases in a typical week using cash.

What’s more – the payment trend shifts that have been accelerated due to COVID are showing no signs of being undone. Only 16% of consumers are planning to revert to pre-pandemic ways to pay once the pandemic is put to bed.

With the cashless movement picking up steam, the pressure is on for digital payment providers to think through, deliver on, and optimize the variety of ways that consumers expect to pay and the different scenarios in which they’ll be paying.

As the touchless payments™ movement continues to unfold, let’s take a look at a few scenarios that could benefit from replacing small change with the simplicity of tap-and-go.

Faith-based giving

The background: For those in the faith community, offerings are a common occurrence. The passing of collection plates during religious services has been in practice for well over a century. Now, as cash falls by the wayside, the idea of impulsively giving in a faith-based setting presents some challenges.

The touchless payments™ solution: Touchless payments™ allow for giving in the moment of inspiration. Whether affixed to a collection plate or positioned as a standalone collection point, there is huge opportunity for simple, inspired giving.

Transit

The background: According to a recent article by Forbes, “One study from early March 2020 found that nearly 50% of Americans surveyed felt that riding public transportation posed a high health risk.” As governments and transit authorities around the world have been grappling with the variety of concerns that public spaces now pose, the opportunity for open-loop touchless payments™ in transit all but squashes the concern around cash handling and potential viral transmission.

In addition to that, the cash conundrum that faced transit pre-COVID is of equal importance. Paying with cash and coin is a much slower process than a tap-and-go model – and any “slow processes” in the transit world can equate to decreased ridership and unhappy customers.

The touchless payments™ solution: Touchless payments are poised to make the transit experience much more seamless. “Open payment systems…allow most passengers to pay without ever having to queue at a kiosk. These passengers could then circulate through stops and stations faster, and thus avoid forming crowds,” according to Interac Corporation. With its speed, safety and convenience, touchless payments™ could be the cash-replacement solution that helps the transit industry bounce back.

Events, Venues and Festivals

The background: The dreaded long-line scenario is all too familiar to event goers. Any amount of lines and wait times can often result in lost revenue. In fact, according to one study, “customers are reluctant to join a line once it has six people in it.” Getting people through a queue is key to capturing more sales. 

In addition, with the air of apprehension around attending large scale events and festivals, a crowded, cumbersome experience could further delay the bounceback of this sector.

The touchless payments™ solution: With events, venues and festivals looking to make a big comeback post-COVID, there is ample opportunity to streamline processes – including payments – to meet the growing demand for seamless event experiences. Processes that combat congestion and promote proper distancing will win big. Whether buying a beer at a concert or buying tickets at a local fair, touchless payments™ can play a huge role in providing this sector with the comeback it deserves.

Retail

The background: Touchless payments™ are no stranger to retail settings. The use of tap-and-go at grocery stores and pharmacies grew twice as fast as non-contactless transactions globally between March 2019 and 2020, according to Mastercard. In countries where touchless payment adoption is high – like Canada – large portions of the population admit that retailers who do not offer this payment method will likely not get their business. In fact, 37% of Canadains try to avoid shopping at places that do not accept touchless payments™ (source: Payments Canada).

The touchless payments™ solution: The good news here is that touchless adoption in retail is strong. But there is still a big opportunity to streamline this payment method in quick-serve settings. Want to buy some street meat before heading to that ball game? Just tap to pay $5, and be on your way.

Eager to Innovate

Regardless of sector or size, individuals and organizations are eager to benefit from the expected boom in post-COVID spending. The better equipped they are to accommodate and deliver the experience that their communities and customers are now expecting, the better they’ll fare.

As the world re-opens, touchless payments™ are poised to play a key role in creating at least one new norm that is fast, simple and equitable for all.