Payments have evolved over the last several years from a purely utilitarian service with the focus shifting from the transaction itself to the customer experience. And for that evolution to continue, payments will have to become nearly invisible.
The role of electronic payments in today’s world is more than just a basic transaction designed to move funds from one person or entity to another – payments is now an experience, similar to how banking’s role has evolved from somewhere you go to something you do. Customers have evolved, too, seeking out new and better experiences from their payments interface rather than seeing them strictly as a utility. Technology companies are constantly growing and evolving to meet the needs of today’s discriminating customers, turning bill payments and other services into seamless processes that are simply a single click away.
The idea of payments beyond transactions has been slowly developing over the last few years. Payment services like PayPal and Venmo have introduced the possibility that they can be more than just ways to send cash to parties. Below are some of the benefits to looking at payments in a new, more experiential light:
The invisibility of payments.
Part of Uber’s success is that the ride-sharing company has found a way to make payments much easier for its employees and customers. While they know they have to pay for the service, customers don’t want the action to disrupt what they’re doing by forcing them to fumble around in a wallet or purse to find cash or a credit card. It might feel a little strange, and maybe even slightly criminal, when a consumer gets out of an Uber car for the first time without paying, but then they realize how much they like the experience, and they want more. This Uber experience has begun to condition consumers to expect more “invisible” payment experiences in all of their transactions, not just those for the car service. Other businesses can take clues from Uber on how to create that kind of environment for their customers.
Alternatives to invisibility.
If your business can’t make payments as invisible as Uber has, you can still improve upon the payment experience for your customers by using your customer demographics to make them more personal and relevant to your customers. Also, understand that today’s marketplace reality is omnichannel, meaning customers want the opportunity to buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere and return anywhere, all on the same payment method(s). These procedures must be smooth, seamless and in the background.
Inclusion of the disadvantaged
Electronic payments are providing a tremendous opportunity for disadvantaged groups worldwide, as they give them the chance to plug into the global finance system by enabling the cheap transfer of money between microfinance institutions. This also allows migrants to receive help from family members who are abroad, to the tune of about $500 billion every year, providing a service that offers financial support to families and individuals in need.
Payments are as much a service, as it is an experience. When businesses create an environment of seamless transacting, payments can become part of the overall customer experience, rather than a separate function, and they will seek out the experience again. Ensuring your payments process is smooth and flawless can attract these experience-seeking customers and help to create a new environment where your business can thrive.