In Depth

Payments Flash-Forward: Why December 2020 Will Be One To Remember

PYMNTS asked 30 payment executives to make a prediction about payments and commerce that they’d put in a time capsule to be unearthed at the end of 2020. Among the common themes to emerge: Change will come to the point of sale (POS), spurred by the continued pivot to contactless ways to pay — and the demographic shift that will bring more buying power to the mighty millennial. Have a future-forward read.

There’s an old saying, ascribed variously to the old proverbs, baseball great Yogi Berra and physicist Niels Bohr:

Predictions are difficult, especially when they’re about the future.

Regardless of the source, the sentiment rings true. The farther one looks out over the horizon, the hazier the picture becomes. That’s especially true in payments, where technology can lead to seismic shifts in the way we pay, where we pay and even when we pay, as commerce becomes ever global and a 24/7 activity.

Shorten the timeframe a bit, and it gets (just a bit) easier to see what may be rushing toward us – or what we may be rushing toward — in terms of innovation in-store, online and across all manner of channels. A year from now then, by December 2020, it’ll be interesting to see where we’ve been and where we thought we’d be — and what might come next.

In fact, a time capsule sealed today, with a prediction of what Dec. 31, 2020 might show in terms of the top trends impacting payments and commerce 365 days from now, might prove to be prescient, instructive, erroneous or even amusing.

To that end, we asked 30 executives from the payments space for their top predictions of what would come to fruition one year from the day you downloaded this eBook.

The answers were varied, to say the least, but some trends remain entrenched, such as the continued transition to device-enabled commerce, and an embrace of marketplace models that make matching buyers and sellers a bit more streamlined. A year from now, the end of 2020 may be marked by a holiday season tied to robust holiday shopping done through mobile means and contactless payments amid a surge of contactless cards issued by banks. Consumers will want — and will receive — flexible payment options, such as installment plans, at the point of sale.

Underpinning it all, according to our seers, is, of course, technology. Customers want real-time payments, subscriptions via streaming offerings and, of course, enhanced security to keep the fraudsters at bay as businesses scale their eCommerce operations across the globe (machine learning pays dividends here).

The evolutions and revolutions will not be tied solely to the consumer side of commerce. As some of our respondents noted, B2B is poised to make further inroads into the digital age, leaving the paper check behind. Through it all, agility matters, especially in the quest to provide frictionless experiences for end users.

Read on to see where the roads may lead us 12 months hence.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.