Commerce is dynamic and always changing. Covid-19 has heightened this, so how can businesses position themselves strongly for the future?
The same, only more so: that’s been the impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour and commerce. For example, the move towards digital payment was already underway, Covid-19 has merely accelerated it. The same is true of contactless payment, contact-free customer experiences and omnichannel.
Digital payments rise, cash falls
It’s not news that digital payments are growing, while paper-based payments, such as cash and cheques, are falling. Cards and contactless were used for more than half of all UK payments last, says UK Finance. Meanwhile the use of cash fell 15% to make up less than a quarter of all payments.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, the trend towards digital payment away from cash has become more pronounced. At the height of lockdown in April, a survey by UK ATM network LINK found that three-quarters of people thought Coronavirus would affect their future of use cash over the next six months. Around half said they would use cards (51%) and contactless/mobile payments (44%) more.
The volume and value of cash withdrawals seems to bear this out. In April, cash withdrawals were down around 60% year-on-year. By July with restrictions easing, withdrawals were still down around 30%, as was the average amount withdrawn. This fell from a lockdown high of £85 to £77 in July, compared to £65 in 2019.
Consumers and businesses were already in the contactless habit. In 2019, contactless payments across UK debit and credit cards increased by 16% to 8.6 billion. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, more than 30 countries have increased contactless spending limits, which has strengthened the contactless payment trend.
Contactless is a quick, convenient and hygienic way to pay. That consumers can now make – and businesses accept – even more purchases in-store without a PIN or signature has led to a snowball effect. Card giants Mastercard and Visa confirm that more than 75% of their payments in Europe are now contactless.
Contact-free and omnichannel commerce
Contact-free customer experiences existed pre-Covid. Think: self-service checkout at supermarkets, kiosks at stations, order ahead and collect at Starbucks and just-walk-out shopping at Amazon Go stores in the US.
Social distancing has increased the need for contact-free commerce in-store. From kerbside grocery collection to at-table order-and-pay solutions using QR codes, Covid-19 has driven new uses for existing solutions. And a further blurring of distinctions between physical and digital channels and payment methods.
How Cashflows can help
Taking digital payments can help businesses close sales. Whether that’s cards, UK direct debit, Faster Payments or various local payment methods. Cashflows lets your customers pay the way they want to help you convert sales.
With regard to contactless payments in-store, Cashflows terminals come with contactless acceptance built in. For new customers, the increased contactless limits come as standard out of the box. For existing customers, this is a software update rolled out remotely. Simple.
Cashflows operates a single platform to power omnichannel commerce. However, you sell, we make it happen behind-the-scenes. One platform also means you can track sales, spot trends or plan from a single place in real-time all the time.
Payment acceptance can be more than just a quick fix to a specific Covid-19 problem. Implemented correctly, it can be a complete commerce solution to maximise sales across multiple channels for the next new normal.
To find out more about payment acceptance with Cashflows contact us today
 ‘Cards used for half of payments for the first time last year’, UK Finance press release, 3 June 2020, https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/press/press-releases/cards-used-half-payments-first-time-last-year
 ‘Coronavirus crisis means cash use down but UK still withdrawing £1 billion from ATMs each week’, LINK press release, 28 April 2020, https://www.link.co.uk/about/news/coronavirus-cash-usage-data/
 ‘ATM cash use rising again as retail and hospitality reopen’, LINK press release, 30 July 2020, https://www.link.co.uk/about/news/link-atm-cash-use-rising-again-as-retail-and-hospitality-reopen/
 ‘Mastercard enables contactless limit raise across 29 countries; and champions permanent increase’, Mastercard press release, 25 March 2020, https://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/press-releases/mastercard-enables-contactless-limit-raise-across-29-countries-and-champions-permanent-increase/
‘Visa and Vipps team up to accelerate mobile payments in Europe,’ Visa press release, 3 September 2020, https://www.visa.co.uk/about-visa/newsroom/press-releases.3031473.html