In A Decade of Digital Transformation in 12 Months, 46 C-suite executives spoke with PYMNTS for its Q2 eBook on what the world will look like as recovery rolls on and the next iteration of normal rolls out. In this excerpt, Matt Carpenter, SVP and market director at Elan, explores how the digital shift has allowed payments companies to offer consumers many ways to make a payment – a trend that will extend beyond the pandemic into future iterations of convenience.
Read the entire eBook here.
I recently went out to eat at a local beachside restaurant, and at the end of the meal, the bill was delivered with a QR code on it. By scanning that QR code, I was able to pay, tip and leave any notes I wanted. A small beachside establishment offering this type of seamless payment process is no longer a surprise. Countless small businesses have adapted to provide digital options, altering their processes to increase convenience and safety for both the business and the consumer. Never before have there been so many ways to get to, and make, a payment; we have the pandemic to thank for that. I believe that the idea and spirit embodied by the “many ways to make a payment” ecosystem will carry on.
Through any combination of QR code, mobile app, in-person, contactless, curbside, phone call, web browser and more, consumers grew accustomed to payment options that afforded flexibility for their personal tastes and safety concerns when it came to activities such as food delivery, take-out, online grocery shopping, etc. Many consumers report that they plan to continue these digital shopping habits post-pandemic, making the desire for increased payment options and processes a permanent shift.
The implications for payment providers are two-fold. First, payment companies must work to make sure they are included in these ecosystems — through forging partnerships, embedding in digital wallets or other investing in other technologies. Partnerships will take on increasing importance where payments can be part of the solution in delivering strong value propositions to consumers. Looking back to the personal example above, I paid my restaurant bill with my Elan credit card via Apple Pay. I choose this payment method often because of the convenience, and the fact that the process to provision my credit card is seamless. This was made possible due to partnerships between payment providers. Though perhaps not obvious to the everyday consumer, as payments professionals, we are aware of how important these partnerships are to the customer experience.
Secondly, payment providers must prioritize actively incorporating the preferences and changes highlighted by the pandemic into current and future product development. We aren’t going back to square one after this is all over. For example, credit card issuers must continue to monitor the pulse on popular spend and rewards redemption categories, such as streaming services and food delivery, to capture the ongoing loyalty of cardmembers.
It is important to note that though we see many advancements in payment technology as an avenue to provide our customers with greater service, those benefits are not always equally shared. This digital revolution has left some segments of the population behind, given limited access, availability and/or awareness. It is our job as leaders in payments to continue to challenge ourselves to think of ways to better serve these more vulnerable populations; I expect to see an increased focus on social responsibility appearing in many organizations’ strategic plans and go-to-market strategies.
The last 18 months would likely have seemed much longer years ago, when we didn’t have the capabilities that we have in 2020 and 2021 to adapt, scale and change rapidly. The digital shift has allowed payments companies to offer consumers many ways to make a payment – a trend that will extend beyond the pandemic into future iterations of convenience. Customers have always been at the center of what we do, and the pandemic has allowed us to get more in touch with their preferences when it comes to making payments. The changes we have made and the renewed spirit of providing “many ways to make a payment” will continue for decades to come.