The trend away from cash is nothing new and with consumers concerned about the health risks associated with handling cash, it’s no surprise that contactless and digital payment adoption is accelerating.
According to a recent survey by the Electronic Transactions Association, 27% of small businesses in the United States have already seen a surge in contactless payments since the pandemic. There is also a 67% share of shoppers who want mobile device self-checkout options in the United States.
In addition to the move away from cash in physical stores, ramped up e-commerce initiatives are helping businesses grow revenue more than ever. Online sales increased 42% year over year this August and buy online pickup in store or BOPIS increased 59% this August.
So we know the pandemic has shifted consumers and businesses towards a cashless or digital payments society but what are the benefits to these payment methods for businesses?
- Safer for those wanting to social distance
For starters, digital payments allow consumers to get the goods and services they need while social distancing or quarantining. They can do so by ordering online and having goods shipped to their door or using BOPIS. Customers can feel safer without risking interaction with others.
- No need to touch terminals or handle cash
Digital payment methods, like QR codes, NFC communications, and slowly gaining traction facial recognition can mitigate human contact and lower risk for spreading COVID-19. Customers do not need to physically touch anything other than their goods when shopping in-store.
Digital payment methods are convenient, and transactions are faster. Cash at pickup windows means line-ups. In-app payments or tap and go are faster and take seconds at checkout. Some companies have started businesses pre-covid without accepting cash to accelerate lineups at peak hours.
- More Secure
Digital payments leave businesses with less cash on hand making robbery less effective should it ever occur. In addition, it avoids the risk of having your employees deliver large amounts of cash at the bank. Contactless payments have built in security features like limits on how much can be paid out, or smartphones designed to disallow repeated transactions.
- Boost revenue
Digital payments allow your business to reach customers from around the globe, and accept more forms of payments and currencies. For local commerce, offering BOPIS can help increase cash flow as customers may want to pick up items immediately vs. waiting for often delayed delivery times. Opening up an additional shopping channel for customers to purchase your goods online vs. in-store can increase overall revenue by giving consumers more shopping options they did not have before.
- Opportunity for consumer incentive programs
Contactless and digital payments allow for businesses to create convenient rewards programs, and personalized shopping experiences. For example, 7-Eleven has been incentivising contactless payments this summer with a rewards loyalty program that can be found in their app. It allows access to special discounts and the ability to redeem points for customers using contactless payments. “For the first seven fill ups on all fuel grades, members will receive a 3-cent-per-gallon discount.” Who doesn’t like rewards?
- Increase Productivity
Digital payments are transparent, can make accounting more accurate and help simplify your sales auditing process. No need for restaurants to spend time cashing out at the end of the night either. That means less chance of human error increasing accuracy, and reducing time and resources.
There’s no better time than the present than to invest in digital payment solutions. “COVID-19’s once-in-a-generation boost for digital solutions is pushing the payments market into a new era”, says Nigel Green, the CEO of Zurich’s deVere financial consulting group. “Without question, this is a major turning point,” he says. “And those payments companies that have invested in mobile and digital technologies will be the likely winners.”