The Transformation of Payments: A Flashpoint of Innovation
For any brand or company, the payment experience must be considered part of the sale. Think about the last time you went to a store and left because the line to pay was too long. Or the last time you went online to pay for something and the checkout process made you so uncomfortable that you just gave up. This shows how important the payment experience is to a brand.
Technology in the payments field has gone through a huge transformation in the last three years. Let’s look at how this has transformed the lives of consumers.
1. Point-of-Sale (POS) Technology
POS technologies available to brands have exploded. Let’s take Square as an example. How does a consumer pay for a magician for their child’s birthday party without pulling out cash or writing a check? Square is the answer. This technology works with iOS and Android devices to accept payments anywhere by using an attachment for the mobile phone.
Other new POS devices include Poynt and Clover. These devices are able to accept EMV payments, gather data on the customer and provide personalized offers. The technology works outside the hardware, so it can be implemented by companies of all sizes — from Amazing-the-Magician to Zoe’s Fashion Bracelets.
2. Mobile Payments
Another key element of new payment technology is mobile payments. This includes mobile wallets available, like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) study conducted by Forrester® Research (The State of Retail Payments, 2016), 68 percent of retailers said they planned to implement at least one digital payment feature in the coming year.
But with new payment methods, we're really looking for consumer adoption. According to a Synchrony Financial 2016 Digital Study, 81 percent of consumers surveyed were aware of mobile wallets, but only 9 percent said they plan to use the technology regularly.
Why isn’t mobile wallet usage taking off? After trying the mobile wallet one time, consumers indicated they just don’t perceive the need, and are not sure if it is safe and secure. Most are satisfied with the payment methods they currently use. But, the tide is turning toward increased mobile wallet usage.
According to the same Forrester study, 63 percent of retailers believe consumers will use mobile payments when more features become available. This includes coupons, offers and loyalty programs tied to the wallet. As a result of these increased value propositions, and the increased number of retailers who adopt the technology, the use of mobile wallets is likely to grow in the future.
3. Mobile App
Enabling payments right in the mobile app is an extremely convenient new innovation. A perfect example of this is Uber: When taking an Uber to the airport, the payment experience is almost non-existent. You just get out of the car and go catch your plane. Why is this significant? Think about other mobile apps that could use this seamless integration. Checking out makeup at your favorite cosmetics retailer? Get the eye shadow instantly.
Synchrony Financial has implemented this payment method with an app plug-in called SyPI. Once the customer is in the retailer’s mobile app, the entire purchase experience is executed directly within the app. No digging into your wallet for your credit card each time you want to buy something — no wondering if you have enough credit line for that new sweater. This technology is gaining traction with many brands who want to create a seamless purchase experience.
4. Person-to-Person (P-to-P) Mobile Payments
P-to-P mobile payments have been taking off in recent years. Your local babysitters don’t have the Square attachment to their smartphones? You can still pay them by using other mobile apps. Examples of these are Venmo, Popmoney and Square Cash. These apps allow the transfer of money to an individual from a person’s credit card or bank account.
Many banks have developed their own P-to-P technology to keep customers connected and engaged. As Millennials reduce their time spent interacting with banking institutions, innovative payment technologies are created to keep them engaged and loyal to the bank.
The payments field has gone through an explosion in technology. And with this advent of new technology are new start-ups that create even faster and more seamless experiences. With the rapid pace of change, the end of 2017 may look very different from today in the payment experience for both consumers and brands. Is your brand ready to take advantage of these new ways to grow your business and keep your customer engaged?
Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents.
Sue Yasav is the VP of Thought Leadership at Synchrony Financial. She's responsible for developing strategic insights through surveys, social listening and academic studies on topics related to the financial services and retail industries. She authors white papers on consumer trends and articulates impactful strategies for marketers in the areas of digital transformation, customer experience and insights into specific growth segments of the U. S. population. Sue has 20 years of experience in the credit card industry, encompassing 10 years at Citi Cards as VP in the Finance and Marketing organizations. In the past 11 years at Synchrony Financial, Sue has been a Lean/Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a marketing leader for a high-end retail partner in NYC and the leader of Value Proposition Development.