The pandemic changed our concept of “normal” life. Social distancing and masking-up are now part of our daily vocabulary, and we approach everything from group gatherings to traveling with a new set of protocols. Consumers’ interactions with retailers and service providers are also changing, including how payments are made.

Restaurants are ramping up takeout offerings with digital menus and online ordering. Curbside pickup allows customers to pay online and pickup at a distance, reducing contact with staff. Service providers are leveraging e-invoicing and quick response (QR) codes to facilitate digital transactions instead of handling cash and checks. Interactions are also being streamlined at the point-of-sale thanks to contactless payment cards and digital wallets.

Will customer payments return to “normal” post-pandemic? There are signs that these changes in consumer behavior are here to stay. Here are takeaways on how customer payments changed in 2020 and how they might continue into the future.

Contactless Payments

Digital wallets and contactless cards are surging as go-to payment methods during the pandemic, and research suggests this shift may endure. Data from American Express shows that 81% of US merchants that offer or plan to offer contactless payments expect to make it permanent. The perceived health and safety benefits of contactless transactions are a key force driving this behavior change, with 84% of merchants indicating that contactless payments are safer than handling cash or payment cards. In addition, Forbes reports that 86% of consumers that used contactless payments for the first time during the pandemic plan to continue using them post-pandemic.

Buy online pick-up in store

According to a survey from Deloitte, buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS) is gaining momentum during COVID-19 as consumers seek new ways of making contactless transactions. Consumers perceive BOPIS as a way of saving money, with 36% viewing it as a cheaper alternative to traditional delivery. In addition, 34% consider BOPIS faster than in-store shopping and 32% believe it’s a safer alternative than shopping in-store.

QR Codes

QR codes aren’t new technology, but the pandemic ushered them back into the mainstream. For example, restaurants are leveraging QR codes to access digital menus and pay tabs with the quick scan of a smartphone. Adoption of QR codes caught on quickly in other parts of the world and that momentum has now spread to the US. Mercator reports that, prior to the pandemic, only 13% of US consumers interacted with QR codes via their smartphones. However, an additional 11% of US consumers have used QR codes since the pandemic began and 34% of existing users say they have used them more frequently since the onset of COVID-19.

Unattended Payments

Unattended payments are expanding rapidly into new vertical markets, from micro markets to pet services. Data from USA Technologies shows that contactless payments are a key contributor toward the growth of unattended payments during the pandemic. Sales at cashless terminals increased 8.6% from January 2020 to July 2020, likely due to the health and safety benefits that cashless payments can provide during COVID-19.

Can your business support these changes in payments behavior?

Paystri’s payment solutions can set your business up for success in all these areas. Click below to learn more.

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