Tracker Series

 Tracking PYMNTS Trackers Into 4Q And Beyond

The last days of summer here.  The end of a quarter is approaching, and with that, we head into the end of a year.  It’s been a dizzying few months in payments.  Amid your Labor Day BBQ, we offer a few bite-sized nuggets gleaned from trackers and indexes and eBooks – original research, and original insights pack those digital pages.  Read on, and click through, for some food for thought…not even a day’s labor on Labor Day.    

To know where you are going, it helps to know where you’ve been.

And it helps to have a compendium at your elbow — a roadmap, always tracked, always tracking and always looking toward the future. And it especially helps to have original research and data points gleaned through the insights of thousands of businesses and consumers, across industry verticals, in order to make sense of what’s been and what’s coming.

After all, sometimes the conventional wisdom is just so….conventional.

Let this tracker roundup be your roadmap. You can put down the grilling spatula and get ready for some food of a different sort: food for thought, where we offer some snapshots of larger trends.

We’re getting near the end of the third quarter of the year.  That means getting ready for the fourth quarter, which in turn means looking out at the end of one year and the beginning of the next — and at subsequent years, of course, because time is a continuum and the only constant is change.

Look across any number of our trackers and indexes through the past several months, and you will see signposts and data points large and small worth watching, and sea changes worth heeding.

For starters, the mid-year PYMNTS eBook can offer a bit of a field guide to commerce that can change slowly, or quickly, and where change can catch the unwitting by surprise.  Best, then, to be armed with the insight of some of the most recognizable, and savviest names in payments.

The Gig Economy Grows (Of Course)

Among the most sweeping changes, and years in the making — and a permanent fixture on the payments and commerce landscape — has been the rise of the gig economy.

The Gig Economy Index has found that what once was the province of ad hoc jobs now has been embraced by a sizable (and growing) proportion of the U.S. economy. Just under 34 percent of the workforce has participated in the gig economy. In the latest survey of just about 10,000 gig economy workers, only 47 percent of those gig workers have a regular full-time job.  As many as 58 percent of gig workers to do not want a full-time job, our studies find.  The demographics show the staying power of the gig economy, even among seasoned and skilled workers. About 18 percent of gig workers are in the 45 year-old to 54 year-old age bracket, which is up from 16.6 percent a year ago.

Financial Invisibles: Invisible No More?

The Gig Economy may be gaining visibility, and visibility brings optics to mind.  Shedding light on under-the-radar trends is part and parcel of what we do at PYMNTS.  This is evidenced in the latest iteration of the “Financial Invisibles” report .  The survey, done in conjunction with Unifund, uncovers that in general, among the four categories (No Worries, On the Edge, Second Chances and Shut Outs), many Americans live paycheck to paycheck.  Drilling down into the numbers a bit, the idea of financially stretching to make ends meets hits 30 percent of No Worries and 79 percent of Second Chance denizens. As credit scoring models change and the economy stays buoyant, we will of course keep an eye on how the financial invisibles may be able to join the mainstream of U.S. consumers.

The Long And Winding Smarter Payments Road

You may be aware that there are any number of headlines tied to cross-border transactions in the wake of Germany’s declaration that there should be a separate European international payments system.  Whether that becomes a reality is anybody’s guess.  But an international landscape is one to visualize as the march toward business done globally is an inexorable one.  The international tenor of business, always on, gives rise to the corporate road warrior, and any number of new conduits to find refuge on the road.  But the travel industry itself, in serving companies and leisure-oriented consumers, can get a boost in streamlining travel payments and their own operations, a key finding of our Travel Payments Study.

Payment rail ecosystems are crucial, of course, but while some tout blockchain, consider the fact that 90 percent of these projects never go live.  And perhaps banks and merchants would do well to keep in mind that Canada provides a telling example of what happens in a friction-filled payments experience, as 53 percent of consumers in that country will abandon transactions should the process prove a rocky one.

Digital Banking: Looking Cross-Border For New Opportunities     

Beyond those cross-border strivings of companies, there’s urgency to make payments rails faster as financial institutions — and consumers, too — are transacting across bits and bytes.  Digital developments in economies mature (such as the U.S. and the U.K.) and emerging (in Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond) show that the opportunity is as greenfield as can be.  In India, for example, almost half of the population does not use digital banking channels. Elsewhere, as noted in the Digital Banking Tracker, 63 percent of consumers (overall) say they use mobile.

Disbursements: Meeting The 3Cs For Consumer Satisfaction

Ah, but even when the rails are there, the service must be there too.  The Disbursement Satisfaction Index found at the beginning of the summer that three Cs take precedence when it comes  to giving consumers what they want.  The 3Cs of disbursement satisfaction span convenience, certainty and choice.  Easier said than done, perhaps, but the check needs to be killed, and fast.  Of 2,000 consumers queried, 66 percent of those living paycheck to paycheck indicated that they are interested in instant payments.

For QSRs, Moving Forward With Mobile Order Ahead

For ease of payments, consider the way the mobile order ahead option has gained ground across any number of verticals.  Perhaps the most visible of these has been the quick service restaurant industry, where mobile options are proliferating — and where, for example, Applebee’s earlier this summer was testing a service where customers have been able to order ahead so that meals can be ready and waiting for their dine in experience.  Better get ready for the younger generations, where the path to the heart may be through the stomach and the smartphone — as noted by a recent tracker, 51 percent of millennials have said that they are more likely to buy from brands offering enjoyable mobile experiences.  At the same time, you can read about how the QSRs are waging the battle against fraudsters, as 75 percent of food and beverage insiders reported an increase in fraud attempts through the last year.

Gas: Revving Up For Mobile Payments

The drive to convenience for consumers goes well beyond the eatery.  The drive for consumer convenience goes right to the drive itself.  In the “Paying at the Pump Report: What Drives Mobile Adoption” the joint effort between PYMNTS and GasBuddy found that 61 percent of consumers surveyed value the apps that can help them find the best prices.  Yet education is key, as two thirds of 10,000 mobile-using customers said that they remain unaware of apps that can, in fact, be used to buy gas.

Self-Service Gains Traction: Thinking Outside The Jewelry Box

In fact, the convenience factor can lead to increased sales….as evidenced by our Unattended Retail Tracker.  Retailers may be “thinking outside the jewelry box” — that’s the title of our latest iteration — but so are any number of firms in other verticals, especially supermarkets.  In that segment, according to our findings, 49 percent of U.S. consumers who are using supermarket self-service checkouts are doing so on a weekly basis, and 28 percent of shoppers would visit a non-grocer if those merchants offered self-service checkout.

Mobile Orders By Drone

How about this for convenient and enjoyable mobile experiences: food in flight. Literally dropped into your lap. By drone. The $13 billion food delivery business can be given a boost by drones, where firms can fill more orders and where speed and convenience are key differentiating factors.  In an interview with drone delivery company Flytrex, we found that one drone delivery program is taking (literal) flight, and that drones can carry a six pound package to a customer in just a few minutes.  The plate waits, and the food comes to you; and for the firms themselves — as drones can make five to 10 deliveries an hour — restaurants can see a tailwind to the top line.

The above?  Just a smattering of what has come to these digital pages in recent months, and what bears watching in the months ahead.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.