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Expert opinion

The future of payments – six trends to watch in 2017

Wednesday 23 November 2016 | 08:09 AM CET

Scott Blum, Total Merchant Services: Small businesses can streamline payment processes and grow their revenue by enabling digital wallet and Bluetooth capabilities

From browsing to purchasing, today’s payment trends are altering the payment processing industry. Along with the rise of payment technologies in recent years, mobile device usage by consumers has completely evolved. Technologies such as digital wallets, on-demand apps, and increased connectivity through near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth are doing more than just improving payment processes, they are the driving significant behavioural and societal trends.

The millennial generation is also playing a major role in the recent changes in payment processing. Making up about one-fourth of the US population, millennials outnumber the Baby Boom generation and are three times the size of Generation X. Their influence cannot be ignored. Growing up in the days of Netflix, millennials expect everything to be fast and on-demand. With that said, merchants must continue to adapt to changes in payment processing if they want to remain relevant to current and future generations.

Moving into 2017, here are six payment trends for small business merchants to consider:

Mobile Payments on the Rise: The growing use of NFC technology and digital wallets among consumers will continue in 2017. Most major players in the mobile device industry have delivered their own versions of the digital (or mobile) wallet (e.g. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay). With Apple Pay reporting a growth of one million new users per week, there are strong signs that many consumers prefer this method of payment. Digital wallets are quickly becoming the norm, particularly among millennials. Because digital wallet payments are faster than using EMV or traditional swipe credit cards, users are quickly converted and want their purchases to be seamless and fast wherever they go. This demand for digital wallets will significantly impact the way small business merchants provide payment services in 2017.

Every Day On-Demand: A new level of demand will take hold of the industry in 2017. Two-day or even next-day shipping for online purchases is becoming too slow for today’s consumers who want instant – or near instant – gratification. While the new “on-demand” economy is already happening among major retailers, digital wallets and other related technologies will improve this process in 2017. For instance, consumers unwilling to wait in long lines will increasingly opt to use their smartphones to purchase products (or “order ahead”) before they even go to a store or while they are on their way. Location tracking connected to the smartphones will notify stores when consumers are near, so by the time the consumers arrive, their purchase will be ready for pickup – without the need to make a payment or wait in line. Small business merchants should expect to see new growth in 2017 as this on-demand approach takes hold of the industry.

A Bluetooth Blowout: Bluetooth will thrive in 2017. Apple’s movement to do away with the headphone jack will help iPhone users, and consumers in general, become more comfortable using wireless everywhere they go. In fact, pulling the plug (no pun intended) opens the way for more experiences with wireless including Bluetooth and accessories. Bluetooth will continue to grow in popularity as users move past initial hiccups in the adoption process. In 2017, the worlds of Bluetooth and mobile payments will merge and users will become more comfortable using the two technologies together.

The Assistant of the Future: Digital assistants will take off in 2017. Google has been collecting data on consumer behaviours for years. With all that information, Google now has the ability to interact with consumers on a more personal level. Intelligent and capable of knowing consumer behaviours, personal assistants are the way of the future. Imagine walking into your favorite big box retailer, and, based on your location and previous searches, your digital assistant knows where you are, what products you’re interested in and what direction you should go to get them. Not only do digital assistants effectively eliminate the need to consult with a sales associate, but they can also notify users of potential deals, offers and reviews. In 2017, small business merchants will look for ways to increasingly piggyback on this technology by offering incentives and targeting deals based on consumer interests.

The Sharing Economy: On-demand apps will continue to drive the sharing economy in 2017. It seems every day there’s a new app to order take-out, find a dog walker, or catch a ride. In many ways, new mobile payment technologies are facilitating the sharing economy and will continue to do so in the New Year. Sharing an Uber ride or splitting a restaurant bill has never been so easy or seamless because of the new payment processing tools available today. Consumer demand for fast and easy ways to share services will push small business merchants to update their systems and take advantage of these technologies. In the coming year, payment processing technologies will flourish as they focus on promoting and enabling the sharing economy.

Services that Go Above and Beyond: Moving into 2017, payment providers will find new ways to differentiate and provide value to their customers. Mounting pressures from a highly commoditised market will drive providers to offer innovative technologies that go beyond just payment processing. For instance, payment providers can offer solutions that help small business merchants run loyalty and incentive programmes, manage mobile wallets, provide on-demand offers, and push notifications to consumer in order to increase foot traffic and sales. By differentiating their services, payment providers can become an invaluable part of their customer’s business.

With 2017 fast approaching, merchants need to recognise the changes taking place in the payments industry and consider how to evolve their business processes to meet the demands of the modern consumer. These small businesses can streamline payment processes and grow their revenue by enabling digital wallet and Bluetooth capabilities to make mobile device purchases easy, offering incentives and loyalty programmes through digital assistants, and focusing on expanding the on-demand and sharing economies.

About Scott Blum

Scott Blum is Vice President and Lead Business Development, Marketing, and Integrated Payments at Total Merchant Services.

 

 

About Total Merchant Services

Total Merchant Services, founded in 1996, has helped more than 500,000 businesses with their payment processing needs and currently processes more than $12 Billion in credit and debit card transactions annually. The company is committed to providing small businesses with easy and affordable payment processing solutions. For more information, call 747-888-9000 or visit www.totalmerchantservices.com.

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