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How to jump on the powerful mobile payments tech revolution

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Mobile payments are changing the game

The race continues globally between big businesses to partner up with tech firms to introduce a new ripple in the wave of payments technology. Here’s a round up of companies test-driving new advancements in mobile payments and what some of these developments could mean for small and medium-sized enterprises.

1. Mobile payments for subway rides in Beijing

Passengers will be able to scan a QR code with their mobile phone to pay for subway rides as soon as before July this year. This isn’t new for London Underground users who have been paying with mobile devices since 2012, while US transit systems such as New York City’s are starting to catch on to the trend.

What’s newsworthy about Beijing is the service does not require phones to have a Near Field Communication (NFC) function and can be used by all smartphones with the Yitongxing app.

SME takeaway 1

This is just another indication of consumers driving the trend toward mobile payments as a preferred payment method. The global number of NFC payment users will grow from 72.1 million in 2017 to an estimated 1,028.9 million by 2020.

NFC Forum predicts there will be 2,217 million NFC-capable mobile devices around the world in 2020. That’s a sign that mobile payments are the real deal for consumers and worth the investment for SMEs interested in staying on-trend. If you sell products or services online, here are a few tips to make the best payment experience for your customers:

  • Create online shortcuts to pay to make inputting key information easier. Flag errors as customers go through the payment form instead of waiting until the end and forcing them to find a mistake.
  • Always think mobile-friendly. Your payments page should be touch-friendly with little need to zoom in or pinch out. It’s also a nice touch to make it easy for customers to resume their shopping where they left off in case they need to pick it up later. Offer an option to send a link to their shopping cart to themselves.
  • Speed up screen load time by reducing the number of elements on each page. Experts say that for every one-second download delay, your dropout rate increases 7-10%.
Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, so don't worry about diving in just yet
Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, so don’t worry about diving in just yet

2. Mobile payments with cryptocurrency in Korea

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb and mobile payments provider Korea Pay announced a partnership to bring cryptocurrencies to 6,000 outlets by the end of 2018. Approximately 200 franchise brands have also signed on to the initiative, allowing cryptocurrency adopters to use Korea Pay’s platform to make payments in cryptocurrencies.

This comes hot on the heels of South Korean internet titan Kakao Corp’s announcement to integrate cryptocurrency payments for 12,000 merchants and millions of users across various other platforms.

SME takeaway 2

No immediate action here. Cryptocurrency is still growing as a global form of payment and is not mainstream enough to cause urgency. Research from Boston Retail Partners shows 85% of North American retailers are taking a wait-and-see approach to Bitcoin, and a TSYS survey shows only 3% of UK have used a virtual currency. It’s probably best to see how consumer demands continue to develop before investing.

3. Mobile payments and mobility-as-a-service in Singapore

MobilityX, a mobility-as-a-service technology incubator, is looking to develop an integrated app that allows commuters to book and pay for different transport options by the end of 2018. Options range from individual e-scooters to driverless electric-driven pods that move larger numbers of commuters to connecting bus networks.

Singtel International also announced the integration of Singtel’s mobile payments platform with MobilityX’s app to support payment and/or checkout services through mobile wallet and direct carrier billing.

SME takeaway 3

Integration is the new black, especially for financial service providers looking to serve SMEs. Payments service providers (PSPs) are partnering with tech firms to create more digital offerings to alleviate common financial management pain points, such as too much time spent on admin tasks, cash flow troubles, and late payments. Now is a good time to analyse your processes and start shopping around for a cloud-based payments solution for more flexibility:

  • Identify the day-to-day tasks that are using up too much time or not delivering the right outcomes. This could be manually updating data for paid invoices, tracking transaction history, or generating invoices. It’s important that these features are a part of your solution offering to truly feel the benefits.
  • How would you want to interact with this technology? Are you or any of your staff already comfortable with the necessary mobile device and/or app? How easy would it be to train users? Is it a plausible enough habit change to make your transition seamless? Consider if your potential solution is a sustainable and achievable option.
  • What are the customer-facing factors with each option? If you’re looking to digitise generating invoices, what does the customer experience entail and how easy is it to use? Are there additional bells and whistles such as invoice customisation?
Social payments haven't taken off yet but are worth keeping an eye on
Social payments haven’t taken off yet but are worth keeping an eye on

4. Mobile payments via WhatsApp in India

TechRadar reported that WhatsApp is in the process of rolling out a new payment feature on the Android version of its messaging app in India. Users will be able to make payments via a QR code when they enable WhatsApp Payments. The new feature is closely aligned with India’s system that calls for various mobile payments schemes to be interoperable.

SME takeaway 4

Another one to watch closely as consumers haven’t gravitated to social payments so much. A Morning Consult National Tracking Poll shows 79% of Americans don’t have the Facebook Messenger app or use it to make payments, and only 6% say they use it several times a day.

Sage’s 2017 UK Payments Landscape Report showed that 63% of UK consumers said they wouldn’t use any social media platform to make payments and 64% of Americans say the same.

However, 26% of UK consumers say they check their WhatsApp account several times a day and there were 18 million active users each month in the US as of January 2018. It’s safe to say there’s more to see in user adoption before hopping on this trend.

Before you add or remove payment options…

1. Get the opinions of your customers

This is the best way to gauge if your customers desire a more convenient way to pay you. It may not be worth your while if your customer base is content with traditional payment methods but it’s certainly worth asking.

2. Keep your customers informed

The checkout and payment process is an integral part of the overall payment experience. Customers expect to be able to pay you seamlessly, so any hiccups in the payment process will be highly visible.

Be sure to let your new and existing customers know when a new payments process is coming, what changes they can expect and how the new method will make paying easier.

3. Phase out old methods slowly

Assume it will take your customers a bit of time to adapt to your new payment options and keep your traditional methods available temporarily. Use any communication touchpoints you have with your customers to remind them of the upcoming changes in payment methods and where they can go for support.

Payments should be simple and seamless for your customers to get the best experience with your business. Whether you’re using technology to do that or not, follow these best practices for mobile and online payments.

The Art of Being Paid

Chasing invoice payments doesn’t have to be painful. Use this kit to answer a few questions about your customers so you understand their payment drivers, then read our advice on how to flex your style for each, calling techniques and much more.

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