‘What Did You Change?’ 34 Payments Execs Weigh In On Payments, The Pandemic And New Possibilities

34 Payments Execs Weigh In On The Pandemic

The end of the third quarter of 2020 offers a moment to look back — and ahead — as a year unlike any other is (a bit more) than three quarters finished.

It may be hard to remember, but when 2020 dawned, unemployment was near historic lows, at about 3.6 percent. GDP was growing at a healthy clip, and most companies — large and small — saw the trends of top-line and bottom-line growth as set
to continue.

Barely a few weeks into the year, the novel coronavirus seemed a distant concept, isolated to Asia and limited in scope.

Then, all too quickly, everything changed, and the virus hit home. The lockdowns interrupted daily life and the ebbs and flows of everyday commerce. Between January and April alone, more than 20 million individuals lost their jobs in the U.S. alone. GDP plunged double-digit percentages as Main Street small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) found themselves in crisis, and “work from home” became the norm. The great digital shift, to life lived online, was and is seismic in scope. PYMNTS research shows that as many as 144 million individuals have shifted to shopping online, and the change may be permanent.

It’s no surprise that companies across any number of verticals have had to make changes, great and small, to the ways they meet consumers — and fine-tune their roadmaps, too. We asked 34 professionals from the payments realm about the single most significant changes they made in response to the pandemic.

Battling a recession is never easy — and as the old saying goes, this time it’s different. But many of the tech-nimble firms we surveyed had built business models that have at least some familiarity with the financial crisis of a decade ago. All of them had to contend with the challenges of conducting “business as usual as much as possible” with distributed workforces, where back-office functions became digital out of necessity.

Some companies have seen amid the acceleration in online spending an aversion to risk among younger consumers,
with focus on helping individuals transact using their preferred payment methods.

On the enterprise side of the equation, the trend has been toward automating at least some business functions that may have been manual in nature (and thus inefficient). So firms have been embracing payables automation in a bid to better manage cash flow. By and large, though, one key theme stands out: the pivot toward online platforms, scalable and flexible, is here to stay.

But to find out how individual firms have met the challenges of uncertain and unprecedented times and how they’re positioned for the permanence of the changes wrought by the pandemic, read on.