Needless to say, we’ve come a long way from bartering spices for sheep. Over the last few centuries, and particularly in the last few decades, our methods of monetary exchange and payments have developed rapidly alongside technological innovation.
So, how is technology driving the future of payments, and where are we still headed? With unprecedented technological innovation, new and demanding regulatory frameworks and changing consumer and business needs, businesses of today need to adapt to and adopt changing payment technologies.
Why are payment methods changing?
- Changes and advances in digital technology
- Consumer demand
- Competitive forces
- The emergence of FinTechs, merchants and social media giants that have created their own digital payment offerings
In 2018, a leading market research firm stated that two-thirds of banks believe their payments infrastructure will need a significant upgrade in the next three years as back-office functions become an essential part of their digital strategy.
Here are some of the trends and technologies affecting the way we pay
Mobile payments are set on a path for significant growth. Mobile payment and online banking apps are increasingly improving user experience through convenience, communication and rewards.
Biometric technology is becoming common in consumer products (such as smartphones). Using biometrics adds an additional layer of security to mobile payment systems, eliminating the need for passwords. As a result, consumers can feel more confident using online payment methods and enjoy a more seamless user experience.
Omnichannel payment processing
Many merchants manage multiple retail channels and formats, which means that basing payment processing on omnichannel will unlock significant efficiencies, such as improving customer loyalty and satisfaction, enabling increased sales efficiency and mitigating fraud. Providing a unified customer experience across multiple channels and geographies is the optimal way to offer payment processing of the future.
The contemporary business world is being disrupted by various applications of artificial intelligence (AI). One example in the payment industry are chatbots, which can prepare and execute basic transactions using simple voice commands.
Adoption of blockchain
Although still perceived as turbulent and unorthodox, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is likely to become a key mechanism of value exchange. The financial world should move towards the adoption of blockchain technology and implement it in specific use cases.
Focus on customer experience
At the heart of the payments evolution is customer experience. Institutions are increasingly expected to leverage new technologies and harness digital innovation to make the payment experience more convenient for the customer.
Business clients benefit from the integration of payments with their core systems using APIs, which streamline the payment process from initiation to reporting and analytics.
Real-time data and payments
Both consumer and commercial payments are starting to mimic the typical digital experience, with everything on-demand. More countries around the world are investing in the infrastructure necessary for the adoption of real-time data and payments.
According to EY, there are currently 40 active real-time payment (RTP) schemes globally, an increase from 25 schemes in 2017.
How to keep up with payment technology
Card terminals aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s worth finding a retail merchant services provider that offers value-for-money and superior customer support. Look to find the cheapest rates on business merchant services to help you save while you’re getting paid.
It’s also advisable to stay up-to-date with the latest payment technologies to meet customer demand and keep ahead of (or least keep up with) the competition. Although there may be some initial investment involved to migrate to new payment methods, they may end up saving you money in the long run.