By Jumaane Hutchinson, Head of Products at Judopay
Over the last 12 months, the pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on both lives and businesses. And, whilst the nationwide vaccine rollout provides hope for a brighter future, we must prepare for the long-lasting ripple effects that are to come.
As society has become so accustomed to social distancing, it now seems bizarre and uncomfortable when we see TV shows that feature packed out streets or pubs. Similarly, people have become more acclimatised to contactless payments – so much so that in 2020, nine-in-ten of all UK in-store card payments were made with contactless devices.
The contactless spending limit, which was raised from £30 to £45 in April 2020, has undoubtedly contributed to the speed at which the number of contactless payments rose in 2020, and now that it has just been announced that this will be raised to £100 this will make even more transactions eligible for contactless payments.
"Pre-pandemic" behaviours are something of the past, as shoppers are now used to contactless payments because they are more efficient, provide ease, and allow safety and security when simply tapping their card to purchase.
How has the pandemic affected businesses?
Although many businesses have benefited from the rise of contactless payments, it is apparent that many small to medium businesses (SMEs) in particular have struggled to survive during the pandemic. It has never been so important to focus on driving sales and increasing footfall in helping businesses keep their doors open. Businesses have had to both adapt to the pandemic and the closure of stores due to lockdowns, as well as prepare for the recession that has hit as a consequence of COVID-19.
However, these threats and barriers have created a surge in innovation across the payments sector. Providers have been working to create products or features that tackle the challenges faced by businesses. One key solution is to offer quick response (QR) code payments, enabling merchants to solve consumer concerns and create quick and contactless transactions with ease.
This solution gives merchants the ability to accept touch-free payments, minus the cost of new hardware. In particular, it supports SMEs that are keen to offer innovative solutions and a great customer experience to promote repeat sales, at a time when many may not have the additional resources to launch a new app or invest in new hardware.
How does it work?
We know that changing payments systems is time consuming, expensive and resource-draining, as well as having to learn how to work new devices. Which is why it is important that such solutions require zero integration work.
This ensures SMEs have a quick and easy set up meaning that they can simply log in to their account via a web browser on their phone or tablet and start accepting payments. It enables them to start growing sales straight away, which is vital if they've had their doors closed for months on end.
Because we know the likes of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Klarna, Pay by Bank app and PayPal have taken the world by storm, businesses can easily enable these payment methods as well. This means customers can now benefit from Klarna-style payment methods in-store as well as online.
Helping SMEs to lower their costs
Whilst of course easing the payments process, it is also important to help merchants lower their overall costs to help their economic recovery.
Launching or growing a sales channel is a daunting task in normal circumstances, but particularly when revenue is low. But for many businesses they have to look at launching additional channel/s in order to survive.
This is why QR code payment solutions can provide a beneficial option for small businesses. They can easily use their existing devices (with an internet connection) to operate. With no fees on hardware, maintenance or rent it saves SMEs from a large investment, when cash flow is so uncertain.
Supporting businesses through the new normal
Keeping customers safe in-store, offering the right payment methods and driving footfall is essential for many businesses in order for them to survive.
As the pandemic has accelerated many digital consumer trends it's not always as easy for SMEs to keep up. However, by looking into other payment options on the market, merchants can adapt quickly, offer a touch-free payment solution and launch multiple payment methods in-store as a means of driving more sales and fuelling prosperity.