Ask a FinTech: how has Covid-19 impacted the payments sector?

November 06, 2020 | Payments

Written by FinTech Alliance

Ask a FinTech: how has Covid-19 impacted the payments sector?

The impact of Covid-19 has been felt in every industry across the globe, with many businesses being forced to cut back and close. Payments, however, has seen an interesting boom as cash has been viewed as unhygienic and many people are turning to contactless alternatives to help prevent the spread of the virus.

On top of this, lockdowns in various countries have forced retailers to close their physical outlets and many have had to either increase their ecommerce capacity or in some cases go online for the first time ever. FinTechs have been vital in helping achieve this, but have seen their own challenges too in staying resilient – so this week we asked three FinTechs their views on what’s changed.

“The online payments industry has gone from strength to strength during the coronavirus pandemic as the number of businesses pivoting online has accelerated,” outlines Matthieu Barral, SVP Sales at Checkout.com. Between May 2019 and May 2020, the company’s online transaction volumes increased by 250%. “Convenience has been king,” he explains, citing alternative payment methods like Apple Pay and the various Buy Now Pay Later offerings that have sprung up across the globe.

“As we approach the festive period, Covid-19 will continue to push shoppers away from the physical high street and onto the digital one,” adds Barral. “Recent research from Checkout.com found that one in five consumers intend to spend more online than they did last year, with £10.5bn expected to be spent overall online during the ‘golden quarter’.”

As ecommerce continues to take off, merchants must step up to compete, and Barral says offering a consumer’s preferred payment method is crucial. “With six in 10 consumers telling us that they would take their money elsewhere if retailers did not have their preferred payment option, they payments industry has had to quickly adapt to an influx of new businesses pivoting online and expanding their infrastructure to meet the expectations of customers on the digital high street.”

Offering online payment solutions for businesses, BlueSnap too has seen a huge uptick and says that digital solutions are gaining a larger piece of the payments pie. “Nearly $150trn in worldwide B2B and B2C transactions occur every year, yet in reality only a tiny portion are digital – but in 2020, this is changing rapidly,” comments Europe MD Nikhita Hyett.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to rethink the entire payments ecosystem, driven in large part by the uptake and accessibility of new digital technologies and an attitudinal shift in terms of how we pay and get paid,” adds Hyett. “Mobile apps, electronic invoicing, and automated Clearing House (ACH) are the future and here to stay.”

Getting the payments process right will be vital in remaining relevant, she stresses, and expanding your digital presence via ecommerce or a mobile app will be even more important in the new normal. “Retailers are looking for innovative ways to maintain trust but also make their payments processes as seamless as possible for both staff and customers, such as allowing the use of mobile apps in-store as an option for contactless payments.

“B2B payments are also going through a seismic evolution. There continues to be a significant shift from legacy payment transactions and traditional modes of payment to fully digital transactions. By adopting digital-first methods, companies can increase their ability to become more accountable, traceable and transparent with their customers and partners. It is now critically important for businesses to become digital-first; to innovate or perish.”

One organisation that is seeing the shift from legacy up close is card payment solutions business PCI Pal. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Geoff Forsyth says the pandemic has forced change in the large organisations PCI works with, such as moving to the cloud. “Covid-19 has really highlighted the importance of using agile, cloud-based solutions for handling payments in contact centre environments,” he comments.

“Organisations have had to quickly transition their contact centres operations to remote working and, for those not already using cloud based solutions, they would have faced significant hurdles in ensuring systems and processes were accessible and secure so staff could continue to work seamlessly from home.”

He says that for those businesses already using cloud it’s proved a significantly easier journey. “The transition has been smoother and comes with the assurances that staff are handling calls and payments as before, which minimises learning curves and new ways of working, plus includes the same safeguards, security and compliance that are so important when handling customers’ sensitive payment information.”

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