The COVID-19 crisis has caused the business world to find new technologies, improve existing ones, or discourage the use of physical money and person-to-person contact. If businesses want to stay on top of consumers' growing obsession with health and safety, they need to prioritize technologies and tools that can help customers feel secure. Thankfully, there are plenty of new payment technologies that continue to emerge and improve as the pandemic rages on. Here are some payment trends to watch out for and explore this 2021.
The rise of debit cards
While debit cards are nothing new, a new breed of payment solutions will continue to take center stage as businesses and consumers look for cash alternatives. Classic prepaid debit cards will make a comeback as merchants and cardholders look for secure, flexible, and convenient ways to do business.
Companies will benefit from looking into card services that do more than one thing—cards that holders can use to pay online, in-store, or even through mobile wallets or retailer apps. They can also use cards that provide rewards and incentives to cardholders. It will be a great way to provide your customers with a sense of exclusivity and keep them engaged throughout the pandemic.
Diversified payment offerings
While most of the world's businesses were quick to transition to e-commerce when the pandemic hit, the work is far from over since experts say the pandemic is far from over. As long as COVID-19 exists, corporations need to find more diversified ways for consumers to pay.
Some examples include biometric fingerprint cards, contactless payment upon delivery, tokenization payments, and various improvements to the traditional card payment options. There will also continue to be a growing demand for more digital payment options as consumers continue to embrace online shopping more than ever before.
True to its name, quick-response (QR) codes are arguably the fastest way to get anything done these days. In some countries, this method is even used for contact tracing to limit the spread of the virus. The best part about this method is that it's relatively easy and affordable to implement. Since digital wallets continue to be integrated, improved, and made more secure as time goes by, QR codes will continue to play a central part in cashless and contactless transactions.
Since QR codes are very much like fingerprints in that they're unique and can have a limitless number of possible designs, they can be used by different establishments across the globe. In many developed markets, QR codes are already implemented or starting to grow in popularity, thanks to platforms like Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay. It's incredibly convenient because consumers need not download a separate application and can already use their favorite wallet to shop through the code.
Nothing has accelerated the need for artificial intelligence (AI) to grow more than the COVID-19 crisis. While it has certainly evolved and improved in the past decade, and even more so in the past year, AI's potential as a way to make payments is only just now being discovered. More specifically, voice activation might eventually play a big part in the way we transact with merchants and businesses, especially since many apps and platforms like food delivery services are already employing its use.
In the past few years, we have seen chatbots with text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities becoming more accessible to the masses. We might be seeing a future in which they are the primary way people make payments within platforms and applications. One example of this implementation is when digital banking applications provide functions that let customers provide instructions and do transactions simply through voice-activated commands. And the best part is that this technology is disabled-friendly, too.
The pandemic truly caused the governments of the world to shift everything to the digital world and accelerated even developing markets' transition to it. Contactless payments are no longer limited to shopping now; many countries also use them for public transportation and other essential services. As the world reckons with the virus, the world will continue to find ways to digitize multiple elements of our infrastructure and how a simple touch or gesture on our phone can help us continue to keep a safe distance from each other.
A Lasting Impact
We may not see the full picture of how the virus's impact will last until it has come and gone, but there's no denying that the digitization of all things can help consumers feel safe and businesses running. Digital payments need to be a priority for businesses if they want to navigate evolving consumer trends across the globe.