The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the digitisation of the payments sector, with contactless card transactions now the preferred choice for many. The rising use of digital wallets, online banking and payments initiated through open banking applications also demonstrates the increasing desire from consumers for quick and flexible payment choices.
These changes mean digital payments are on the rise. Recent statistics from UK Finance shows that in September last year, contactless payments reached their highest recorded level. With a variety of payment systems now on offer, businesses need to ensure they can offer seamless and secure options to customers.
Last year, the majority of consumers across the UK embraced a digital model as lockdowns and social distancing minimised the chances of contracting COVID-19.
For businesses, this forced a re-think. Many may have been considering a move to implement digital payments or made plans to do so, pre-pandemic there may not have been a compelling reason for them to rush to transform payment models.
However, the pandemic has highlighted the desire for more digital payments and businesses are moving away from traditional payment methods. With the increased use of mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay as well as buy now pay later schemes such as Klarna, it has become increasingly difficult for older systems to compete.
By branching out now, businesses benefit from longevity as digital options offer flexibility to customers in choosing how to pay, creating a seamless experience and increased likelihood of returning customers.
Contactless card payments look set to increase from £45 to £100 in the next year and this significant change creates shopping experiences that are a lot quicker and smoother, for both businesses and consumers. However, many organisations realised they lacked the visibility, flexibility and agility needed to adjust to the new way of living.
This is where integrated or embedded payments are an increasingly popular solution, able to connect the payments system with existing financial and business management software. As there is a straightforward setup process, businesses can begin to use this integrated system instantly.
Using cloud-based software also increases security, minimising the chances of fraud, as well as having the option to access important data from any device with an internet connection.
A modern, automated solution can drastically cut the cost and time spent on manual duties such as invoice processing, chasing payments and ultimately providing a more flexible, efficient and less error-prone organisation.
The steps ahead
With multiple businesses making the move to digital payments, what can we expect to see in the future? It has recently been predicted by Accenture that by 2030, over 50bn transactions are expected to shift away from cash to digital payments – with the UK expected to see the most widespread adoption. To cope with this influx, businesses will need to act now to put a high-performing payment infrastructure in place to accommodate the shift.
A secure payment system, able to support these needs and effortlessly enable multiple payment options is now critical for businesses seeking to remain competitive and relevant in the eyes of customers.
For businesses, it’s important to understand the need to stay on top of payment technology trends to accommodate shifts in payment volume, new customer shopping demands and to remain one step ahead.
A push towards a broader digital payment is only likely to continue throughout 2021 and years to come. Incorporating integrated payment systems sooner, rather than later, will equip businesses with the potential to save time, money, and the capacity for further growth. Speed, convenience and competition are reshaping the payments industry and early adopters of digital tech are likely to see their investments pay off.
Mike is a payments advisor for The Access Group, which has just launched a new digital payment service, Access PaySuite. For more details, click here.
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