The world of small and medium sized businesses has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. Weathering the storms of Brexit and a global pandemic, the ways in which consumers engage with business, and the changing expectations on business have shifted significantly. Conducting business in a world of social distancing and the fast impersonal pace at which so many of us live our lives has put new pressures onto businesses, in particular those in startup and growth phases.
As technology evolves to cater to the needs of consumers, so must business. In recent months, we have all interacted with products and services online more than ever, therefore at minimum, every business is now expected to have an online presence and where possible to set up e-commerce functionality in order to trade virtually, both locally and internationally.
The technological demands don’t stop there. Not only have consumers changed the way they want to interact with businesses virtually, but as the economy has opened up, and in-person sales have restarted, it’s clear that consumers are still looking for some distance. Contactless payments have gone from being used sometimes to being an absolute essential. But what does that mean for businesses in practice?
Providing contactless payment means that a customer can use a credit or debit card, a key fob, smart phone or any other tool that uses radio frequency to identify a payment method and pay remotely. It offers customers a way to pay without direct contact and for business owners to receive payment in a safe, efficient way. Increasingly, the offer of contactless has become a necessity, with customers reporting that if they know they can use contactless payment, they are more likely to choose to shop. In response, research shows that 75% of businesses that have introduced contactless payment are processing 30% more transactions per day.
As we move through the pandemic, businesses will be considering ‘life after’ and wondering whether to invest or re-evaluate their offering to provide contactless.
It’s true that some businesses and indeed some consumers do have concerns around contactless, for example, the worry of data protection and security, the costs of investing in the digital infrastructure, and most importantly the lack of personal contact with customers. Then there’s the ever present concern of card fraud that banks and businesses work so hard to limit. Certainly these are important factors to consider but also to be weighed up against the positive impact of going contactless.
Offering contactless payment means that consumers have options and every customer loves options. Perhaps they choose to pay in cash, perhaps they want to engage with you via e-commerce but equally, they may only wish to use contactless so giving them that option is key.
Contactless offers a business the chance to buy back a little time. Instead of spending time cashing up at the end of the day, checking for counterfeit notes, counting out change etc., contactless provides a business with a quick, secure and efficient way to take payment, and to avoid the extra tasks and risk that necessarily go along with handling money.
The most compelling argument for a business is that contactless payment is cost efficient. Firstly, it is cheaper than offering Chip and Pin payment, it reduces transaction fees in most cases, it improves security and for most banks, it means that finances arrive in your bank account quicker than credit card or cash deposits. On the whole it’s a win: win.
Measuring the pros and the cons is a process that each business will do for themselves but it’s hard to see an economic future where contactless decreases in usage rather than increases. Putting the contactless genie back in the box does not feel like an option, and so accepting this reality and working with the concerns that surround that may be the best course of action. Properly preparing your business for contactless means taking into account security and fraud concerns and crucially finding ways to continue to engage personally with your customers. Doing so will allow you to offer your customers the options they expect, whilst still protecting the evolution of your business whether big or small.
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