So far, 2020 has proven that whatever payments behavior you felt normal about for yourself and others before this pandemic – about what shopping behaviors you would shift to if forced to, and what payments methods you would be willing to use if required to – have been rewritten. It seems like the more hard-pressed we are, the more adaptable we become. Adapting has been the key to restoring some balance in our business lives and our personal lives, keeping us entertained and staying productive in our jobs. Adapting how we shop is allowing us to keep food in the house and keep up with purchasing life’s everyday needs like medicine, batteries, and even a new smart TV with digital streaming features.
Adapting is also how security is being maintained as consumers limit their face-to-face interactions in physical stores. EMV and dual -interface payment cards were a tremendous force for change for retailers and payments networks, introducing a new generation of POS technologies and online payments services for retailers. Contactless commerce no longer just means paying in person with a contactless card or mobile device. As major retailers were closing stores and consumers had to forego dining out and limit their store visits, consumers were able to adapt to using more digital channels and take advantage of new home delivery, curbside pick-up, or drive thru/take-out meals options.
Where people started returning to physical retailers and restaurants, new mobile and contactless check-out options greeted them at the same time. Fears of touching anything inside a store have driven consumers and merchants alike to avoid cash and use contactless payment options more often. Contactless payments are increasing worldwide – not only as a result of the pandemic. In a recent keynote address at a virtual U.S. Payments Forum event, a Visa executive reported that nearly 60% of all face-to-face transactions globally are tapped, rather than inserted or swiped. Contactless acceptance has real COVID-era benefits as well. Another recent publication by the Forum provided tips to cleaner payments that included encouraging the use of contactless forms of payments, eliminating signatures on receipts, and reducing unnecessary touches from prompts at the POS.
What will be the long-term effects of these sudden shifts in personal shopping behavior and the introduction of new enabling technologies for order ahead and pickup/delivery services? I believe some of these shopping trends will become less popular as time passes. Habits don’t change overnight and anyone who has sat at home waiting for a food order to be delivered and cringing at the 25 – 50% cost increase for service charges, delivery fees, and tips will be happy to be able to go back to how it was. Other habits will be broken more quickly and will spread more broadly. Wearing a mask inside a store reminds us that this virus is not going to disappear anytime soon. Being able to tap a card or pay with a mobile wallet and walk away rather than handing the card to the cashier or inserting it into the reader and grabbing the pen or stylus to sign a receipt will forever change this behavior for many who never knew there was another option. Adapting will be a constant part of everyone’s lives for the foreseeable future.
Executive Director, Secure Technology Alliance