Payments Innovation

Consumer Expectations Drive Systems Choices Post-COVID

Consumer Expectations Drive Systems Choices

Connected commerce, bless its algorithmic heart, was ready when we needed it, providing a supply line for ordinary people living in extraordinary conditions. That fact is shaving years off advances in payment preference, as COVID-era consumer sentiment drives innovation.

To analyze how the pandemic has affected the spread of emerging payment technologies and methods such as contactless payments and mobile wallets, and what adoption means for merchants and payment providers, the PYMNTS report Anatomy of a Consumer Payment, done in collaboration with FIS, looks at payments through the lens of the consumer experience, now seen as the ultimate adjudicator of which brands are hot — and which are decidedly not.

“Merchants must constantly innovate their payment experiences to keep up with how consumers expect to be able to shop and pay, regardless of their customers’ preferred channels,” according to Anatomy of a Consumer Payment.

“Delivering those experiences in a contactless manner has gained importance since the pandemic’s start. Sixty-one percent of U.S. cardholders now say that being able to pay contactlessly with a card is at least somewhat important, and these expectations have become even more crucial for consumers from around the world. Digital shopping has become commerce’s new normal.”

Cashless Is Carefree

Americans spent $211.5 billion in Q2 2020 on eCommerce purchases, aligning with recent PYMNTS findings that nearly 60 percent of consumers are shopping less in stores and are embracing the digital shift.

Merchants are upgrading checkout features and app functionality with urgency to meet consumer demand, and that’s smart. It’s also risky when done under pressure. That’s why partner and technology choice are so important, as many merchants need guidance.

Noting the rising popularity of mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and others, Norman Marraccini, head of retail digital payments, ACH and real-time payments at FIS, told PYMNTS that “COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone on earth, changing where and how we work, our social lives and even how we pay. The current pandemic has pushed the financial world to think about payments differently, and has sped up the adoption and rollout of new cashless options.”

With eCommerce and online payments volume skyrocketing since COVID arrived, the value of global digital payments is expected reach $4.4 trillion by the end of 2020. That means merchants and sellers must be ready to accommodate and grab that growth.

“These technologies let shoppers go into most stores without needing cash or even having to bring their wallets at all. P2P payments have also seen growth during the pandemic for very similar reasons. Now, instead of having to pay your friend back in cash, you can send money directly to their bank account with products like Zelle and the aforementioned mobile wallets. These payment solutions have provided a safe alternative to cash that will continue beyond [the pandemic],” Marraccini said.

Keeping Digital Consumers Happy

Building on the digital momentum and sense of excitement that is starting to return as business slowly exits a fearful first half of the year, the race is on to upgrade as the economy picks winners and losers.

“Consumers already abandon online purchases at the slightest hint of friction, and are now searching for assurances that their online payments can be made securely and swiftly before they click ‘buy.’ Not fulfilling these expectations could negatively impact merchants’ finances as well as those of payment processors,” Anatomy of a Consumer Payment states.

“The entities responsible for supporting these payments will need to carefully consider how they can keep digital consumers happily transacting as their expectations and options continue to change and expand.”

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