The pandemic may be here for a while. But bit by bit, economies are reopening and taking tentative steps toward normalcy. The “new normal,” however, for firms across any industry — but especially across the payments and commerce spheres — must include a “digital-first” mindset.
We queried 35 payments executives about their individual efforts to fast-track the leap to digital and recount what has happened in the past 12 weeks — and what will need to happen moving forward to keep that digital shift in play.
The reinvention runs the gamut, as businesses became work-from-home by necessity. Within financial services, the move pointed to a need for banks and financial institutions (FIs) to examine legacy systems.
One thing is certain: The seismic shifts have shone a spotlight on the fact that cash (and even plastic cards) has seen – and will continue to see – dwindling use. Alternative and digital payments will remain ascendant – and virtual cards and mobile wallets will likely see a wholesale embrace rather than incremental adoption.
As digital payments become ever more mainstream, consumers will demand seamless interaction with their financial institutions, which means FIs must look at ways they can pivot from branch-based experiences, yet deliver those same high-touch services through digital channels. To get there, according to some of the executives we queried, agility is key, and responding to end users’ demands will be paramount.
That may entail shifts in the way payments get done, in terms of speed. As more consumers and businesses use digital, contactless means of transacting, instant payments will likely be increasingly in focus, which demands infrastructure overhauls.
Underpinning it all, of course, is data – the information FIs will need to leverage (and which may already be on hand) to personalize various channels of interaction, to make them intuitive and valuable to the end users.
For merchants, the digital shift means recognizing that consumers have made the leap to doing everything from home and from their phones in what is likely to be a permanent manner. That means companies must increasingly offer order-ahead and curbside pickup options, for example.
Corporate payments innovation is also on the horizon, according to our respondents. Business travelers, for example, can use virtual commercial cards across mobile devices. B2B payments, long paper-based, are moving toward bits and bytes. The change has been a long time coming.
The year is only half over, and change and uncertainty have been the only constants – yet change and uncertainty foster innovation that lasts far longer than turbulent times. Read on to see what’s next in the great (and continuing) digital shift.
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