Consumers set the pace as SMEs evolve their payment options

By Nathan Gill, Vice President and Head of Solutions, Verifone Europe

Are you accustomed to making contactless Google Pay or Apple Pay transactions with a tap of your phone? Or perhaps you hope to see tablets in the place of tills? If so, you are part of the digitally savvy society driving an unstoppable payments evolution. Evidence of this sea change is all around us. Recent research from UK Finance marked a major milestone, and in 2017 debit card payments were found to have overtaken cash for the first time. 13.2 billion debit card payments were made, surpassing the 13.1 billion made using cash.

New research from Verve commissioned by Verifone reveals the charge of micro, small and medium sized businesses to deliver on the expectations of the modern consumer. According to the research, 29 per cent of UK SMEs now offer in store app payments, working hard to keep up with the growing digital demand.

While this is shows good progress from smaller businesses, today’s consumer is setting a challenging pace, forcing retailers to keep up. Advances in technology are providing a steep learning curve while also changing customer behaviour, and on top of this, increased security concerns add to the juggling act.

SME owners are rarely experts in cyber security, but they can protect their business and their customers by partnering with a payments provider who is acutely aware of the critical need for robust security. For example, payments provider Verifone offers the VX 520 payment terminal which provides robust security to shield against complex and multiplying threats.

Another concern brought to light by Verifone’s Verve research is cost, both financial and in terms of time. A very substantial 45 per cent of small and micro businesses, and 35 per cent of medium sized businesses say that transaction cost is an important factor in a payment solution. This is another area Verifone is actively addressing for its customers.

Implementing a mobile app-based payment option could prove to be a double-edged sword in meeting this requirement. Systems in this category require neither extensive infrastructure nor technical understanding, allowing SMEs to harness the benefits of cutting edge technology without costly preparation and management. This option also creates a competitive customer experience, an aspect of retail that has become critically important.

One way to achieve this at the checkout is to not only offer customers efficient ways to make payments, but to also present new opportunities that the customer may never have expected. Examples include making charitable donations or delaying a payment until payday.

For example, digital donation system Pennies works with a number of payment providers to enable customers to make small, data-free charitable donations by rounding up their bill at the point of sale. Not only is this the kind of customer experience that excites consumers, but it also adds value for businesses. Over the past year, the digital charity box has seen great success in projects, including the raising of £250,000 in partnership with Topps Tiles for Macmillan Cancer Support.

With transformation comes challenge, and this is amplified by the reality of major security risks. SME businesses may not be able to channel endless resources into tackling these areas, but with Verifone’s integrated approach, customers are able to deploy streamlined payment options that will both delight and give confidence to end-users.