By Oren Levy -CEO, Zooz
With the 2015 holiday season just around the corner, US retailers are scrambling to contend with various challenges related to payment issues. Taking into account that the Fintech industry is evolving at a dizzying rate, we take the opportunity in this article to discuss the major issues facing US retailers today.
Multiple Payment Channels – NO GPS Required
By every indication, consumers are ready to shop on their phones, using them not just for browsing or web rooming prior to in-store purchasing, but for making actual purchases. Last year, Christmas sales via smartphones increased significantly over the previous year: almost 40% of all online sales were made directly via a mobile device.
However, an interesting finding provided by Google reveals that consumers who shopped across multiple channels and devices spent four times more than those who didn’t. And, in fact, based on previous years’ data, a vast majority of US holiday shoppers are expected to shop in physical stores this season – simply to get into the holiday spirit!
The lesson to be learned here is that retailers who strive to maximize revenues must enable easy and secure payments across every shopping channel.
Alternative Payment Methods – Which to Choose?
With the proliferation of smart phones, NFC compatible alternative payment methods and digital wallets are popping up like mushrooms after the rain.
In addition to Apple Pay, competitors include Samsung Pay and Android Pay, which are steadily improving their offerings, and CurrentC, which has yet to launch. Currently, both retailers and consumers appear to be confused by the diversity in the field of mobile wallets. Added to that is the fact that mobile wallets vary in functionality. While some work for in-app payments, others function solely at the POS. Some wallets are linked to the customer’s bank account, while others are based on prepaid arrangements.
While large players currently dominate the industry, their solutions are limited because they are not provider-agnostic. If a newcomer were to develop a mobile wallet compatible with all devices and operating systems, it might see wide scale adoption among consumers and merchants.
On the other hand, closed-loop merchant mobile apps (such as Starbucks) have proven to be highly successful. Savvy large retailers would be wise to set up similar apps because potential benefits include increased sales, customer acquisition and more successful loyalty programs.
Despite limiting factors such as security risks, mobile wallets are poised to forge ahead, and retailers must be equipped with the necessary integrated hardware and software terminals to stay in the running.
EMV Adoption – A Challenge Yet to Be Met
Despite the fact that as of October 1, US merchants are now fully liable for any losses incurred due to credit card fraud, recent data indicates that less than 30% of US merchants are capable of processing chip-enabled cards. From the consumer’s point of view, things aren’t much better; more than six in 10 American card holders do not even possess chip-enabled credit cards. And let’s not forget the banks, which are not holding to their deadline either.
The EMV payment process requires the shopper to enter a PIN code at the POS. For many purchasers the new process may prove to be confusing during the harried pre-holiday shopping period, which may in turn provoke frustration and failure to complete payment transactions.
Additionally, enterprises that do not accept chip-enabled cards may well lose cautious customers to competitors who have already incorporated EMV. Unfortunately, we can’t expect EMV to see widespread implementation until after the next massive data breach.
To Buy or Not to Buy – Social Media Buy Buttons
Some pundits predict that social media buy buttons will be the new frontier of mobile commerce. Facebook and Twitter recently launched shopping functionalities on their platforms. Skilled utilization of social media has the potential to boost revenue and customer loyalty. While this sales channel holds a good deal of promise, retailers must convey compelling social media messages that will inspire the shopper to press the “Buy Now” button and complete the sale. The transition to the purchase point must be kept easy and fast in order to “strike while the iron is hot.”
However, social media platforms do not possess the customer’s payment credentials, and safe storage of these details would necessitate compliance with complex security regulations. Conducting sales and payments through social media platforms would also necessitate integration with the retailer’s inventory and the regular tracking of purchases.
Another issue is the fact that social media platforms do not capture data-driven insights regarding consumers’ shopping preferences, transaction histories and buying habits. So while consumers may actually be reading your social media posts, you could just be targeting the wrong audience for your offering.
The holiday season offers many challenges to the savvy retailer, but they are far outweighed by the opportunities. As long as you pay attention to your customers’ needs and allow them to pay the way they want to pay – safely, securely and conveniently – the holidays should be cheerful for your business and shoppers alike.
Deloitte University Press, http://dupress.com/articles/mpayments-mobile-pos-system-in-retail/
A Comparison of Alternative Payment Methods, http://www.3gdirectpay.com/blog/a-comparison-of-alternative-payment-methods-part-1/
Vend University, https://www.vendhq.com/university/retail-trends-and-predictions-2015
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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