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Friday, April 16, 2021

Touchless commerce here to stay

New evidence indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic created a sea change in the way people shop and that touchless commerce is here to stay. Results of a survey just released by consumer research firm Piplsay revealed that for 51 percent of Americans, preferences for touchless technologies have increased amid the pandemic.

Perhaps even more striking, 82 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed said they expect businesses to continue adopting touchless technologies once the pandemic subsides, and 40 percent said they have negative views of businesses that do not adopt touchless technologies.

"The changes we see now will likely continue well past the pandemic as safety and health take on a more profound meaning," said Trupti Rane, consumer insights manager at Piplsay.

Businesses, consumers acclimating

Piplsay surveyed more than 30,000 Americans and 6,000 Britons. Britons were only slightly less likely to prefer touchless to touch technologies. Forty-four percent of Britons say their preference for touchless technologies had increased since the pandemic was declared; 71 percent expect businesses to continue adopting touchless technologies post Covid and 35 percent of Britons hold negative views of businesses that fail to transition to touchless technologies.

"With Covid-19 showing no signs of subsiding, businesses have begun to rethink ways to operate differently and allay the nagging doubts and fears about the pandemic," Piplsay wrote in report released on April 14, 2021. "While sensors and voice-activated tech were in play even before the pandemic, smartphone apps and QR codes seem to have become the new touchless enablers, narrowing the gap between humans and technology even further."

Among Americans surveyed, 67 percent said they had used touchless technologies like app-based beverage dispensers or cashier-less stores (like Amazon Go), with 53 percent saying it was a good experience, compared to 6 percent who said it was not. Among Britons, 39 percent found it a good experience compared to 4 percent who said it was not at all a good experience. One in three Americans and just over half the Britons surveyed said they had not yet tried these touchless purchase experiences.

Piplsay's survey suggest consumers have become increasingly comfortable with interacting with technologies rather than people. Nearly half of U.S. respondents (49 percent) said they were extremely comfortable; 13 percent were not at all comfortable. Among Britons the split was 34 percent to 24 percent.

The primary factor that worries consumers about increasing human-technology interaction: data privacy and security, according to 43 percent of Americans and 38 percent of Britons.

Contactless and mobile for the safety conscious

Contactless payments, while possible in various forms for more than a decade, have taken off with the pandemic, as many reports have shown. This is despite the fact that health experts have found no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via cash or payment cards.

Mastercard reported that 41 percent of all in-person transactions around the world during the third quarter of 2020 were made using contactless cards or apps. That was up from 37 percent during the previous quarter and 30 percent in the third quarter of 2019.

Among consumers worldwide surveyed in 2020 by Mastercard, 46 percent had swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that supports contactless payments, and 74 percent said they planned to continue using contactless payments even after the pandemic passes.

The State of Retail Payments study, conducted last year by the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research, found 67 percent of retailers accepted some form of no-touch payments. That included 58 percent that supported contactless card payments, up from 40 percent in 2019, and 56 percent that were accepting digital payments initiated using smartphone apps, up from 44 percent the year before.

More recently, a report by the analyst firm eMarketer, revealed that in-store mobile payments at U.S. stores rose 29 percent last year. In all, 92.3 million U.S. consumers age 14 and older used proximity-based mobile payments at least once last year, eMarketer reported, and it predicted that number would grow to 101.2 million this year. By 2025, eMarketer expects half of all smartphone users to be using those devices to make payments at least occasionally.

The average spend per mobile payment user is also increasing. It was $1973.70 in 2020; eMarketer predicted that will increase by nearly 24 percent to exceed $3,000 by 2023.

"While mobile payments and contactless cards have accounted for a minority of payments in the past, the pandemic has clearly driven consumers to change their behavior and retailers to accelerate their adoption of the technology," said Leon Buck, NRF vice president for government relations and financial services. end of article

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