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Getting Real About How Consumers Want To Pay

Getting Real About How Consumers Want To Pay

I never thought I would resist touching a payment key pad in a Target store, want to sanitize my hands after paying for my house paint at Home Depot, or thought twice about keying in my zip code when I am purchasing gasoline. The only “don’t leave home without it” item in my life right now is a pump-dispenser of hand sanitizer in my truck.

That’s what is happening to payment systems post COVID-19.

Payment method preference is changing dramatically.

In a great blog post at Accenture.com Sulabh Agarwal, Managing Director – Global Payments outlined some post-COVID trends worth noting.

According to Agarwal, “Early in March, the World Health Organization warned that banknotes may spread coronavirus. The WHO recommended using contactless payments where possible to help control the virus. COVID-19 further undercuts the use of cash by forcing many retailers to close their doors and sell exclusively through online orders for delivered goods.

For these reasons, the pandemic is driving adoption of contactless payments in a major way. It is unlikely that it will end the use of cash everywhere, of course, but it may be enough to push many markets towards a new cashless paradigm.”

No surprise here, no cash is an answer, but here’s the so what:

“COVID-19 gives customers good reason to be wary of public payments terminals. Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay allow a payment to be made without even touching a card to a terminal or entering a PIN. Businesses that are unable to accept payments from digital wallets may experience constrained growth in the post-pandemic world while peer-to-peer contactless payments, even between different types of wallets, should become commonplace,” according to Agarwal.

Although there are probably more germs on my cell phone than there are in a public bathroom, they are my germs…

Digital wallets mean cell phone access and cell phone access means app accessibility – among other things. Although there are probably more germs on my cell phone than there are in my bathroom at home, they are my germs. Paying without touching a retail key pad is preferable to just about anything right now, even with the marketplace beginning to open up and the COVID scare beginning to subside somewhat.

Providing people with new ways to pay for things is inconvenient – and it costs money. Every new technology means another layer of costs, new technologies to facilitate collection and, frequently, hardware upgrade accommodations.

We can be ferocious about fighting change, and even more so about investing in it.

Just when I think I have the ‘latest and greatest’ payment technology deployed, along comes another new idea driven by another social imperative with another layer of costs – but that presents another opportunity!

What frequently keeps retailers from quickly adapting the new technology is that they see only shrinking margin on existing business – instead of realizing their only other option is no margin on shrinking business.

At least there is real clarity about this imperative. There is science and medical certainty behind these new waves of payment methods – touching something that someone else has touched is not okay.

Touch-free payment systems are here for keeps – so is whatever it costs to provide them.

You can visit the Accenture Blog at: https://bankingblog.accenture.com/top-eight-ways-covid-19-will-impact-payments

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